Sunday, Feb. 7
Denver vs. Carolina, 6:30 p.m. EST. Peyton Manning's Broncos will face Cam Newton's Panthers in the 50th Super Bowl — which many expect to be the final game of Manning's career. Denver (14-4) edged the New England Patriots 20-18 for the AFC title Sunday, before Carolina (17-1) ran away with a 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC.
— Cam Newton, Panthers, threw for two touchdowns and ran for two others, and finished with 335 yards passing and 47 rushing in Carolina's 49-15 romp over the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC championship.
— Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, rushed for 83 yards on 19 attempts, helping Carolina past Arizona 49-15.
— C.J. Anderson, Broncos, ran for 72 yards on 16 carries to help Denver advance to the Super Bowl with a 20-18 win over New England.
— Philly Brown, Panthers, had four receptions for 113 yards and a score — an 86-yard TD — in Carolina's 49-15 win over Arizona.
— Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, had eight catches for 144 yards and a TD in a losing cause as New England fell to Denver 20-18.
— Shiloh Keo, Broncos, recovered Stephen Gostkowski's onside kick in the closing seconds to seal Denver's 20-18 win over New England.
— Ted Ginn Jr., Panthers, had a 32-yard punt return to set up Carolina's first touchdown — a 22-yard run by Ginn — in a 49-15 win against Arizona.
— Von Miller, Broncos, had a franchise playoff-record 2 1/2 sacks and an interception in Denver's 20-18 victory over New England in the AFC championship game.
— Luke Kuechly, Panthers, returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown in Carolina's 49-15 win against Arizona.
STREAKS & STATS
New England's Stephen Gostkowski pushed an extra point to the right in the first quarter of the Patriots' 20-18 loss at Denver — his first miss in 524 tries. ... Tom Brady led New England in rushing with 13 yards on three runs. ... Denver improved to 11-3 this season in games decided by seven points or fewer, a record for victories in that situation. ... Carolina set the record for most points for a winner in the NFC title game in a 49-15 romp of Arizona. The 49 points were the most this season for the Panthers. The previous time a team scored as many as 49 in a conference title game was 1990, when Buffalo beat the Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 in the AFC. ... Carolina won its 13th straight home game, including three in the playoffs.
Denver tied Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history with eight. Meanwhile, it is the second trip to the big game for Carolina, which lost to New England 12 years ago. ... The Broncos have gone to the Super Bowl seven times under owner Pat Bowlen, tying New England's Robert Kraft for the most in NFL history. ... Denver's Peyton Manning became the fourth player with 40 or more touchdown passes in NFL playoff history, joining Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Brett Favre. At 39, Manning surpassed John Elway as the oldest quarterback to take his team to the Super Bowl. ... Denver's Gary Kubiak became the seventh coach to reach the Super Bowl in his first year as coach of a team. ... New England's Tom Brady (31) surpassed Adam Vinatieri (30) for the most games played in NFL playoff history.
BRADY VS. MANNING
Peyton Manning improved to 6-11 in his vaunted series against Tom Brady, but 3-1 with the AFC title on the line, including Denver's 20-18 win over New England on Sunday. Manning finished 17 of 32 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Broncos harassed Brady into a 27-for-56 day for 310 yards and two picks.
Carolina's big-play defense stifled Arizona's top-ranked offense in a 49-15 win in the NFC championship game. The Panthers picked off Carson Palmer four times, forced two fumbles by him, and never let up. Capping the barrage was Luke Kuechly, who returned an interception 22 yards for a score. At one point, the Cardinals had turnovers on three consecutive plays: a fumbled punt, Palmer's fumble, and Kurt Coleman's first of two picks. "We're Thieves Avenue," Coleman said.
Carolina Panthers All-Pro linebacker Thomas Davis broke his right forearm against Arizona. "I will do whatever it takes (to play)," he said of the Super Bowl. Davis hurt his arm with 7:28 left in the second quarter when he hit Darren Fells with his right shoulder as Fells jumped into him after a catch. ... Panthers safety Roman Harper injured an eye in the first half and didn't return. ... Arizona lost reserve defensive tackle Josh Mauro in the first half to a right calf injury.
"I just feel terrible. All day, these guys put their bodies and lives on the line, and for me to come out here and miss a kick, it's a nightmare scenario. I can't even explain how I feel right now. It's just a complete shock and I let a lot of people down." — New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski, whose first missed extra point in 524 tries played a huge role in the Patriots' 20-18 loss to Denver in the AFC championship game.
"We've been dreaming about this moment since Day 1. Our pen has a lot more ink left." — Carolina's Cam Newton after the Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl with a 49-15 win over Arizona.