By Johnny Carey, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — On Sunday night, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was named MVP of Super Bowl 50. Miller led a defense that just about single-handedly won Denver a championship, as he recorded 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass defended.READ MORE: Police Searching Woods In Abington For Missing 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis
To put it lightly, Miller was a monster.
His defensive performance wasn’t the only one worth talking about, though. In fact, it may not have even been the best defensive performance of the game.
Kony Ealy of the Carolina Panthers turned in an incredible individual night that will most likely be forgotten because, well, his team lost. Even though that’s how it works in sports, Ealy’s Super Bowl 50 performance still warrants praise.
The second year man out of Missouri did just about everything possible to keep the struggling Panthers in the game as he turned in arguably one of the best Super Bowls ever by a defensive player.
The stats don’t lie: Ealy finished the game with three sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, as well as an interception.
His three sacks tied Reggie White (Super Bowl XXXI) and Darnell Dockett (Super Bowl XLIII) for the most sacks in a Super Bowl.
He even became the first player in Super Bowl history to record three sacks and an interception in the same game.
Incredibly, Ealy did all of this while playing only 23 snaps.
While the stats themselves are impressive, they are even more remarkable given the circumstances in which they occurred. Time and time again, Ealy made a big play to keep Carolina afloat.
Let’s take a look Ealy’s impact, notably on the Carolina side of the field:READ MORE: I-Team: Correction Officers Suspended After Vaccine Exemptions Were Rescinded
With 4:35 to go in the first half, the ball at the Carolina 24- yard line, and a 13-7 lead, Peyton Manning and the Broncos looked to take a stranglehold on the Super Bowl before halftime.
Ealy lined up at the line of scrimmage before dropping back into coverage and shadowing Emmanuel Sanders, who appeared to be looking for an outside throw.
Ealy read Manning’s eyes and made a play on the poorly thrown ball, bringing it in with one hand. (SB Nation has the GIF.)
While Manning’s throw was putrid, not many defensive ends have the ability to make a one-handed interception. More important than style, Ealy’s play in coverage kept it a one score game at the half.
In the second half, a similar situation arose.
With just over 13 minutes remaining, Carolina found itself down nine points with Denver driving on their side of the field. Carolina’s defense desperately needed to make a play, as its offense remained incapable of doing anything. Once again, enter Kony Ealy.
Ealy blew through the line, knocked the ball out of Manning’s hand, and recovered it himself. (He fell on the football, Cam). Again, Ealy kept the Panthers in the game. (SB Nation with another GIF.)
Of course, Carolina couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities provided by Ealy, and it was all for naught. One defensive end can only do so much. Peyton Manning got to drink Budweiser, kiss Papa John and celebrate winning the Super Bowl, while Ealy got nothing. What could have been a legendary performance will remained overshadowed.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Ealy said, per the team’s official website. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s not the first time that has happened to a player.”
While history is most certainly written by the victor, Kony Ealy absolutely deserves props for his performance.MORE NEWS: 'Too Much That Can Go Wrong': Local Movie Prop Master Explains Dangers Of Guns On Set
Johnny Carey is a senior at Boston College. You can find him on Twitter @JohnnyHeights.