Chart shows that botched punt return was the biggest moment of Super Bowl

Early in the second quarter of Super Bowl 50, the Carolina Panthers had just scored a touchdown to cut the lead to 10-7 and then immediately stopped the Denver Broncos on three plays in just 39 seconds, forcing them to punt from their own 8-yard line.

The Panthers got the ball back at midfield and appeared to be gaining momentum. It may have also been their last great chance to win the Super Bowl.

After the punt, the Broncos had just a 42.2% chance of winning the game, based upon simulations run by numberFire. That was close to where they had started the game (39.8%).

But instead of taking advantage of good field position, the Panthers were forced to punt after three plays, losing two yards. On that punt, Panthers players appeared to be confused, thinking Jordan Norwood had signalled for a fair catch. Instead of being tackled at his own 25-yard line, Norwood raced 61 yards, pushing the Broncos’ win probability to 58.4% on that one play. The Broncos’ chances never again fell below 50%.

Super Bowl Chart

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