Peyton Manning comes up a winner in hard-to-watch Super Bowl 50

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Peyton Manning shakes hands with Cam Newton after Super Bowl 50 on Sunday. Manning’s Broncos won 24-10. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There are two ways to look at Super Bowl 50.

A) What a great defensive battle!

B) That was so ugly I’m not sure I’ll ever regain full use of my eyes.

Let’s go with B, as in bad TV.

The defensive-minded among you probably loved the pure savagery of the Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Panthers. You might be celebrating the distinct possibility that Peyton Manning ended his career with a second Super Bowl title.

But I can’t shake the feeling that Manning could have been a corpse on a gurney and the Broncos still would have won Sunday. Some of us look at his 56.6 passer rating and aren’t sure whether he actually was among the living.

Both defenses were excellent. The Broncos made Cam Newton feel pain all night. The Panthers made Manning feel every one of his 39 years. But there were unforced errors too. Manning threw an interception to a defensive end. Newton missed receivers all night. He also didn’t try to recover a ball he fumbled late in the game. That’s a cardinal sin in football.

Manning became the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, and there won’t be an asterisk in the record book for how mediocre he looked doing it. If this was his last game, he’ll take the victory and try to forget the performance. But, boy.

He wasn’t alone in his struggles. There were turnovers all over the place. There were enough unsportsmanlike penalties to make you wonder whether there had ever been such a thing as sportsmanship.

A 44-yard field-goal attempt that hit the right upright. Four lost fumbles. One offensive touchdown by each team. More punts than any human should have to watch.

I love defense too. Just not that much.

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