When the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos meet up in Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50, it will be just the fifth matchup all-time between the franchises.
You won't learn much about how the Super Bowl will play out based on these past matchups, the first of which was in 1997—John Elway started for Denver, and Cam Newton was just eight years old—but we decided to revisit their past matchups anyway.
Here's a look at the four previous games the Broncos and Panthers have played.
Nov. 9, 1997 - Broncos 34, Panthers 0
In the most lopsided matchup in the history of the two franchises, quarterback John Elway and the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos trounced the three-year-old Panthers. Denver dominated special teams, as Darrien Gordon scored on punt returns of 82 and 75 yards, both in the first quarter. The Broncos also scored on a 27-yard interception return by Tyrone Braxton. Elway finished 14 of 23 passing with 227 yards and a touchdown pass to Rod Smith. The Panthers offense, lead by quarterback Kerry Collins, only put up 147 yards and turned the ball over four times.
Oct. 10, 2004 - Broncos 20, Panthers 17
Broncos running back Reuben Droughns rushed for 193 yards on 30 carries, and quarterback Jake Plummer threw two touchdown passes as Denver edged Carolina. Plummer completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Ashley Lelie with 10:08 left in the fourth quarter, a score that proved to be the game–winner. Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers had a 101-yard interception return, but he didn't score on the play, which still constitutes the longest interception return that didn’t result in a score in NFL history.
Dec. 14, 2008 - Panthers 30, Broncos 10
Behind quarterback Jake Delhomme and running DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers took down the Broncos for their NFC South-clinching 11th win and improved their home record to 8–0. Wide receiver Steve Smith torched the Denver defense, hauling in nine passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Delhomme completed 17 of 26 passes for 253 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Williams broke off a 56-yard touchdown run. The Broncos offense and quarterback Jay Cutler couldn’t get anything going, tallying 279 total yards and turning the ball over twice.
Nov. 11, 2012 - Broncos 36, Panthers 14
Peyton Manning got the better of Cam Newton in their only previous matchup, leading the Broncos to their sixth win of the season over the struggling Panthers. Manning continued his strong 2012 season—his first with Denver—by completing 27 of 38 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown. Newton threw for 241 passing yards and two touchdowns, but struggled against Denver's defense. The Broncos would end up picking off Newton twice and sacking him seven times. Broncos wide receiver Trindon Holliday returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.