Road to Super Bowl 50 – Ricky Oaks

 It has been a crazy season. We’ve seen many greats such as Charles Woodson retire, along with new rookies such as to Todd Gurley lead the way for a new class of rookie sensations.  Then there is the celebrations after every touchdown that football players around the US imitated.  But as we are closing in on the event of the year at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, home of Super Bowl 50, let’s recap the already crazy post season that has already shocked the most football world.

 After a blowout victory for Kansas City at NRG Stadium in Houston with a 30-0 victory over Houston, there was a massive overload of action that first Saturday of the playoffs with a crazy and controversial game between AFC north rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, with two penalties by the Bengals which propelled the Steelers to a close 18-16 victory.  Then came one of the coldest games in playoff history since “The Freezer Bowl” in 1982.  Minnesota were heavy underdogs against a stacked Seattle team who has dominated the NFC for the past 4 years. After having a 9 point lead into the 4th quarter, Seattle, lead by a young quarterback by the name of Russell Wilson, lead his team with 10 unanswered points with just minutes left. Then Minnesota will manage to drive up the field, just to shank a field goal for the win, leaving fans in shock. Then in Landover, Green Bay lead by a dynamic Aaron Rodgers with multiple wide receiver threats, were just too much for the underdog Redskins, winning 35-18.  

 Next came the Divisional Rounds. The Chiefs would head into Foxborough against New England, a team they have been playing great football against in recent years. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep up with a Patriots team who had a healthy team for the first time nearly all season in a 27-20 victory for the Patriots.  But that is nearly the beginning of a stressful Saturday. In Glendale, Arizona, the game was so tense, even the coin toss dropped people’s jaws. The drama basically started when Rodgers pulled off a miracle throw to the end zone in double coverage to take the game into overtime. Then before they can start over time, they had to redo the coin toss, due to a coin that never even flipped. Then once that was cleared up, Arizona’s veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald leads the team down the field in less than a minute to win the game 26-20.  Then on that Sunday, we had the two great offensive teams in the NFC, and two great defensive teams in the AFC.  The 15 and 1 Panthers dominated the first half of their game against Seattle with 31 points, only to almost blow it in the second half, barely hanging on to win 31-24. Then up a mile high in Colorado, a defensive game took place against two soon to be Hall of Famers in Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. But in the end, Denver’s defense led by veteran Demarcus Ware, were too much in the end low scoring affair, winning 23-16.

 Then after what seemed to be a short week, finally came two great title fights for a coveted spot to play in the Super Bowl. On one side, we had the two top offensive teams in the NFL, both lead by Heisman winners Cam Newton and Carson Palmer. Then on the other side, we have what is possibly the final chapter greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history with Brady and Manning.  First came the AFC Championship in Denver.  After dominating the first half 17-9, the Patriots had to depend on the dynamic duo of Brady and Gronkowski, and they came in the clutch. But, their clutch performances weren’t enough, as Denver’s defense lead by Von Miller escalating his team to a 20-18 victory.  Then in Charlotte, there was only one word to describe this game, dominance. The Panthers just demolished not only the Cardinals secondary with the West Coast style of quarterback Cam Newton, but also the power of its defense led by phenom Luke Kuechly, causing 7 turnovers en route to a 49-15 victory.

 So now the stage is set.  As we look back 50 years ago to the first Super Bowl played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, we are now playing on a higher level as we see two different teams play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Levi’s Stadium.  On one side, we have the Carolina Panthers who basically have taken the league by storm, dabbin’ there way with the top offense led by Cam Newton. Then on the other side, an aged, but strong, Denver Broncos, who are not only looking for redemption for their disappointing performance two years ago, but also a Cinderella story with the headline being Peyton Manning’s 4th and possibly final Super Bowl game in an NFL uniform. Now there is one question remains, whose side are you on?

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