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SB50 from the couch: Lose the challenge flag; why football is great

Von Miller and the Denver defense kept Cam Newton on the run in the first half. Tim Rasmussen ESPN

Behind a strong effort from their defense and special teams, the Denver Broncos took a 13-7 lead over the Carolina Panthers into halftime.

The first half of the broadcast featured an impressive performance from Denver’s front seven, an unlikely dabbing performance and commercials involving babies (kind of).

Here’s what we noticed from the couch:

1. In a day and age when we can recover from ACL injuries more quickly than ever and have found a way to stuff garlic knots into pizza crusts, how is the NFL still relying on a manual toss of a red handkerchief to challenge plays? It’s time to advance to 2016 technology. Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera used both his challenges in the first half. The first one was smart, even though officials didn’t reverse the call. It looked like wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery made the catch in the first quarter. The second one? Questionable. Rivera won the challenge, which resulted in a Peyton Manning sack and a loss of 7 yards. But the Panthers won’t have a challenge the rest of the game.

2. The game of football receives plenty of justified criticism: player safety, off-the-field issues, etc. But what other brand of entertainment could give us this?

Betty White dabbing. Look no further for proof of why football -- and this country -- are great.

3. As we told you Saturday, the best prop bet was Steph Curry’s jersey choice. Hope you listened and were able to collect.

As for the “first touchdown” bet, the field won at 11/2 with defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s fumble recovery in the end zone.

Led by Von Miller, the Broncos had four sacks and six QB hits in the first half. That has been the story of the game so far.

4. I have never been in an advertising meeting. But I would like to know what happens in that room when someone comes up with an idea as brilliant as the “Puppy, Monkey, Baby” bit. Does everyone immediately shut their laptops and go home for the day? Do they open the in-office liquor cabinet and toast one another? America needs answers to important questions such as this.

5. Leftovers: Go ahead and pretend “Whatta Man” won’t be in your head all week, but you’re only lying to yourself. ... Early on, it seemed Newton had opportunities. He missed on a couple throws, and the Panthers had a couple drops. Later, though, it seemed defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was definitely winning the chess match. ... The Doritos commercial with the baby in the hospital room was the one that left me speechless. It takes a truly tortured genius to come up with something like that. ... When did Aqib Talib get a pep talk from Vontaze Burfict? Was it right before the game or earlier in the week? Talib had three penalties, including two personal fouls, in the first half.