SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Cam Newton’s go-to guy came and went in Super Bowl 50.
The Panthers quarterback’s favorite receiver through most of the season, tight end Greg Olsen, had one of his least effective games of the season at just the wrong time. Olsen, who went over 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight regular season, was held to just four catches and 41 yards in the Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Broncos on Sunday night.
The Broncos used a number of different coverages on Olsen, sometimes shadowing him with cornerback Aqib Talib and other times using a linebacker and a safety. Newton simply couldn’t find his receiving target on a regular basis, and it was a huge factor in the Panthers’ disappointing offensive output after scoring a combined 80 points in previous playoff wins over the Seahawks and Cardinals.
“We picked a really bad day to kind of have a meltdown,” said Olsen, who had just one catch for 7 yards in the second half. “When we were on, we were moving the ball. We had things going. But just when we had something going, [we had a] critical error, penalties, drops.”
Even with the erratic performance on offense, the Panthers were within one score, 16-10, midway through the fourth quarter.
“For as bad as we were playing in the first half and pretty much through three quarters, to look up and only be down one score, it was a credit to what our defense was doing,” Olsen said. “But we just could never really find our way.”
Why the struggle to find rhythm?
“I would say it’s a combination of things,” he said. “It’s a very good defense. They force you to play at a very small, narrow margin for error, but a lot of what we had was just breakdowns in our own scheme, breakdowns in our own plays. Hats off to them. We knew it was going to be a challenge, and we knew if it became a pass-happy game, it would be tough. But obviously, we would have liked to have given it a little bit better shot.”
What’s left after a loss like this?
“Obviously, it’s been an emotional season,” he said. “We’re proud of how far we’ve come. We’re proud of this organization, but obviously, we’re extremely disappointed. We’re disappointed in the way we lost. I feel like we never really gave ourselves even a chance. That’s a tough pill to swallow.”