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Panthers tight, mistake-prone in first half of Super Bowl 50

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Carolina Panthers looked tight in the first half of Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos.

They made three turnovers and almost had four.

They dropped at least three passes.

They missed multiple tackles, including one from "Tackling Machine" Luke Kuechly.

They didn't look like the loose team that outscored their two playoff opponents, Seattle and Arizona, 55-7 in the first half.

That the Panthers went into halftime trailing only 13-7 seemed like a gift.

The mistakes started with league MVP Cam Newton. He missed high on a couple of passes early that could have gone for big yardage. He also gave up a fumble that resulted in Denver's first-quarter touchdown.

The Panthers gave up a league-low 32 points off turnovers all season.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery bobbled and ultimately dropped what could have been a big catch over the middle early. He hadn't had a drop all season.

Fullback Mike Tolbert had two fumbles after having none all season. The three first-half fumbles (two lost) were Carolina's most this season.

Special teams surrendered a 61-yard punt return when two defenders were all over the returner, leading to a Denver field goal.

Newton is 2-14-1 in his career, including playoffs, when trailing by six or more points at halftime.

Were it not for a spectacular one-handed interception by defensive end Kony Ealy with Denver driving in the second quarter, this one could have been worse.