The road to Super Bowl 50

(Photo courtesy of the NFL)
(Photo courtesy of the NFL)

FitzbeatsquareThe countdown to Super Bowl 50 is here, and both 17-1 Carolina and 14-4 Denver are working hard getting ready for Sunday. This is the first Super Bowl in the San Francisco area since January 20, 1985 at Stanford Super Bowl XIX (San Francisco 38-Miami 16).

Joe Montana and Dan Marino were the quarterbacks and Bill Walsh and Don Shula were the head coaches. All four men are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This year’s game is in Santa Clara, the home of the San Francisco 49ers. Peyton Manning will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl at age 39. It could very likely be his last game. If Manning were to lead Denver to victory, he would become the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams.

Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 win over Chicago. This has been a trying year for Manning; he led the NFL in interceptions with 17 and missed six weeks with a torn plantar fascia. But he’s back in a big way for Denver. He has had his pristine image tarnished by Al-Jazeera America’s report alleging that his wife Ashley received shipments containing HGH.

Manning’s goal and mission is clear: Win and maybe go out on top. That is easier said than done considering Carolina’s Cam Newton is just 26 and is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the highest scoring team in the NFL. The age difference between the two quarterbacks is the widest in history.

This is the second Super Bowl for Carolina in their franchise’s history. This is Super Bowl number eight for Denver, who are tied with the Steelers, Patriots and Cowboys for the most trips to the Super Bowl.

February is Black history month, and the Broncos know it all too well. Super Bowl XXII quarterback Doug Williams led Washington to victory over Denver 42-10 and became the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. He was named the game’s MVP.

Three years ago, in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson became the second Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl (Seattle 43-Denver 8) and was the game’s MVP. Newton, like Williams and Wilson, is Black. Denver again stands between Carolina winning their first Super Bowl and joining the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears with a Super Bowl 18-1 season record.

Carolina scored 500 points in the regular season; Denver scored 355. That point differential of 145 is the most in Super Bowl history between two teams. Denver led the NFL in sacks with 52. Carolina forced the most turnovers with 40 and were a plus-20 in the turnover ratio.

This week I’m covering my 35th Super Bowl. Here’s how I see the game:

Denver beat Pittsburgh 23-16 and New England 20-18 to reach Super Bowl 50. Carolina beat Seattle 31-24 and Arizona 49-15. I think the Panthers are too strong for Denver and will run the ball to win 27-17.


Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit