Congratulations to Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, Peyton Manning, and the Denver Broncos for their 24-10 victory over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Now, what can the New York Giants learn from Sunday's game?
The answer should be brutally obvious. If the Giants are going to win a fifth Lombardi Trophy, or, at least, get back into contention to do so, it's all about the defense. The Giants were pitiful on defense in 2015, last in the league in yards allowed and 30th in points surrendered. They were near the bottom of the league in those categories in 2014, as well.
The Super Bowl champion Broncos led the league in sacks during the regular season (52) and yards allowed (283.1) and were fourth in points allowed (18.5). The Panthers also possessed a top-tier defense, sixth in the league in yards and points allowed and first in the league in takeaways with 39.
Carolina possessed the league's highest-scoring offense (31.2 points per game) but the Panthers were overwhelmed by the stifling Denver defense. Carolina scored just one touchdown. The Broncos sacked Newton seven times. They played stout run defense. They covered. They did not miss tackles in the open field.
The Broncos won this game on defense. Miller created 14 points by himself. He had a pair of strip sacks, one that lead to a Malik Jackson recovery for a score and another that salted the game way, teeing up the Denver offense at the Carolina 4-yard line. He finished with 2.5 sacks. Demarcus Ware, coming off the other edge, had two. By the way, sure Miller -- who can be a free agent -- would look nice in a Giants uniform. That, however, isn't happening. There's no chance the Broncos let him get away.
Denver just won a Super Bowl with Manning going 13-for-23 for 141 yards and a passer rating of 56.6. The only Broncos touchdown was a four-yard "drive" aided by a penalty that came after Miller's second strip sack.
The Broncos, and for that matter the Panthers, too, were rock solid at every level on defense. Carolina sacked Manning five times, allowed only 194 total yards of offense and lost.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News pointed out before Sunday's game that 43 of 49 Super Bowl-winning teamshad top 10 defenses. Now, of course, that is 44 of 50.
The NFL is a league that now favors the offense. The rules limit what defenses can do. Quarterbacks throw for more yards and more points are scored than ever before. Great defenses that pressure quarterbacks, force mistakes and make big plays still, however, win championships.
The Giants know this blueprint. It is one they helped create, but that they have managed to misplace. They have won the Super Bowl four times, and each of those teams featured bruising defenses that could -- and did -- control high-flying offenses. The Giants won their last two Super Bowls by pounding Tom Brady, keeping the games low-scoring, and getting just enough offense to win.
Ben McAdoo, an offensive coordinator, is now the Giants head coach. All-world wide receiver Odell Beckham and quarterback Eli Manning are the team's stars.
If the Giants are going to get back to winning, rebuilding their defense must be their top priority. That is the lesson from Sunday.