Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware key to Broncos' Super Bowl-readiness

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Denver Broncos moved through the final days before Super Bowl 50, coach Gary Kubiak said he had a preview of what was to come.

The foundation of the 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Levi’s Stadium was built in how the Broncos approached their work in the days before it. In their practices, in the team’s collective demeanor during the swirl of Super Bowl week and finally in Saturday night’s team meeting, Kubiak said he saw all he needed to see.

Kubiak had selected DeMarcus Ware and Peyton Manning to speak at the team meeting and many players said both Ware and Manning were highly emotional and delivered their words with passion.

“I watched them really lock in, especially when we got to Wednesday and worked towards Sunday, they really locked in,’’ Kubiak said Monday morning. “Our meeting the night before the game was one of the greatest moments of my career to be in a room with that group of guys and to see -- you felt something special coming. I’m proud of them from that standpoint. They took care of business. They did all year long.’’

Kubiak had leaned on Manning and Ware, as captains and two of the team’s most veteran and respected players, throughout the team’s preparations in the regular season as well as in the playoffs. Manning had joked before the Broncos left Denver for the Bay Area last week that he believed curfew for the players should be 9 p.m. each night.

“I think we handled our business all the way through the season and into the playoffs,’’ said Chris Harris Jr. “We always knew we’ve been in a lot of tough games, we were tested. I think every guy knew how to handle the week on the field and off the field.’’

The Broncos players said the team was dialed in during practice all week -- the team worked at Stanford University -- and it showed, especially on defense, in Sunday’s win. The Broncos finished with seven sacks and held the NFL MVP -- Panthers quarterback Cam Newton -- to 18-of-41 passing as Newton did not score a touchdown either by rushing or passing.

It was just the second game of the season -- the Panthers’ Dec. 27 loss to the Atlanta Falcons was the other -- in which Newton did not either run or throw for a touchdown.

“We did most of our work in Denver and before we came out, I called Peyton and DeMarcus in, and we were talking about curfews and all of those types of things,’’ Kubiak said Monday. “I put it in their hands. I really trusted them. They’ve been great all year. When I asked them to do something, they did it. They were hard on each other. I always told our team, ‘The great teams are really hard on each other, make each other really accountable.’’’