An army of disappointed fans streamed out of bars and restaurants around the Charlotte area Sunday night after the Carolina Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Police on foot and on bicycles were stationed on street corners along Tryon Street and near the Epicenter. But aside from a few honking horns and a few excited Broncos’ fans, things remained mostly quiet uptown.
The scene was subdued compared to four hours earlier, when tens of thousands of Panthers fans, with hopes high, gathered at bars and restaurants around the Charlotte area.
About 70 fans at D9 Brewing in Cornelius clapped in unison and chanted “Let’s go Panthers” as the Panthers were introduced around 6:30pm. A few booed the Broncos as they took the field.
The first quarter didn’t go too well for the Panthers, as they fell behind 10-0. They got a touchdown back early in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Jonathan Stewart. There were a few bright spots, like when Kony Ealy intercepted a Peyton Manning pass interception in the second quarter. That brought big cheers from fans at Ri-Ra on Tryon Street.
And a packed house at Blackfinn, at the Epicenter, screamed when Corey Brown caught a 42-yard Cam Newton pass.
But big plays were few and far between for the Panthers. Quarterback Cam Newton was hounded all night by the Broncos' defense - easily the meanest he has seen all season. With 30 seconds left, and the outcome no longer in doubt, the Broncos added insult to injury by sacking Newton for a seventh time.
As time ran out and the Broncos took the title, fan Steve Johnson at Blackfinn was disappointed, but looking at the bright side.
“It was tough, it was very tough. We weren’t in the game today,” Johnson said. “The season was awesome. They made it all the way to the Super Bowl, I mean they only had one loss. They played great this whole season.”
Mike Summerby was disappointed as he walked along Fifth Street, but looking ahead to next year.
“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to lose ever. But I guess Peyton Manning’s a veteran,” he said. “Great season, great season. Keep pounding!”
The city’s office towers were lit up Carolina Panthers blue and Panthers fans were everywhere. But there were a few Broncos fans celebrating after the final whistle. Someone honked a horn excitedly outside the bars at Fifth and Tryon streets.
And back at the Epicenter, one Broncos fan was gracious in victory:
“Congratulations to the Carolina Panthers for making it to the Super Bowl but my Broncos did take that,” said the man, who called himself “Q, for Quentin.”
“And we’ll see Carolina next year.”