SANTA CLARA, Calif. — When it was all said and done, it was the Denver Broncos who felt like dancing.

Their defensive effort against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers had earned their soon-to-be retired quarterback Peyton Manning another Super Bowl ring, after a 24-10 victory at Levi’s Stadium. But the victory did more than just that.

It also showed the football world, once and for all, that Denver’s defense should have been the key story line during Super Bowl week.

See alsoSuper Bowl 50 boxscore

“We read ’em like a book,” safety T.J. Ward said after the game when asked if the Panthers’ offense did anything he and his teammates didn’t expect.

The Broncos entered the game with a future Hall of Famer leading their offense, the No. 1 defense in the league and recent Super Bowl experience. And yet, the Panthers had been favored.

Outside linebacker Von Miller was named the Super Bowl 50 MVP after his first-quarter strip-sack resulted in the Broncos’ first touchdown of the day. He finished with 2 1⁄2 sacks for losses of 27 yards, six combined tackles and two forced fumbles.

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“We love being the underdogs,” cornerback Aqib Talib said. “We just sit back, chill, be the underdogs and come out with the win.”

Newton was 18-for-41 with an interception and was hounded all game, getting sacked six times. (Ted Ginn was also sacked.)

“Hey, when things don’t go his way, we see the body language — it’s obvious,” Ward said of Newton. “That’s what we wanted to do. That was our intent to come in this game and get the body language going. We didn’t want the happy, fun-spirited ‘dabbing’ Cam. No, we want the sulking, upset, talking to my linemen, my running backs, ‘I don’t know what’s going on’ Cam Newton — and that’s what we got.”