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Minnesota suddenly ‘Land of the Interims’

After eight straight losses, the Minnesota Wild has fired Head Coach Mike Yeo. After a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at Xcel Center Saturday, the team’s eighth-straight loss at home, the decision was made to cut ties with Yeo, who was in his fifth season as head coach.

The Wild have been in the playoffs the last three years, and expectations in the State of Hockey for 2016 were for them to return and go deeper in the playoffs. Yeo was 173-132-44, and last season he led the Wild to a 46-28-8 record, the second most wins and points in franchise history.

John Torhetti, a former Chicago Blackhawks assistant, is the team’s new interim coach — his first game behind the bench was Monday at Vancouver. Torhetti twice previously has been an interim head coach in the NHL, with Florida in 2003-2004 and with the Los Angeles Kings in 2005-06.

The Wild are one of the league’s most popular franchises. They average well over 18,000 fans per game. Right now the Wild would not qualify as a playoff team in 2016, but there is time to change that.

The NBA Timberwolves also have an interim head coach in Sam Mitchell. He became interim coach after the sudden death of team President and Head Coach Flip Saunders in October of 2015.

The University of Minnesota fired Norwood Teague, who was found to have sexually harassed women in the department. The University then named Beth Goetz as interim athletic director.

Minnesota is in the unique position of having interim head coaches for both pro teams and the University of Minnesota’s athletic program. Now that is rare indeed.

Broncos defense crushes Panthers 24-10

SANTA CLARA, CA — Careful what you ask for, you just might get it. The Carolina Panthers — brash, talented and boastful (17-1) with pictures (selfies) and celebrations — scored 500 points, averaging 40 points a game in the playoffs. It was all bubblegum and giggles, just having a great time, until young MVP quarterback Cam Newton was humbled on the world’s biggest stage.

Super Bowl 50 will forever be a bad taste in the mouth of Carolina, just a win away from being in the conversation as one of the greatest teams ever in the Super Bowl era. Instead, they are, for now, just a mere fart in a windstorm after being dominated by the Denver Broncos 24-10. Denver led 10-0 early, setting the tone defensively; teams scoring first are 34-16 in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl 50 was the first NFL Championship game in the San Francisco area in 30 years. The story lines focused on Peyton Manning, the future Hall of Famer’s potential last game, and Newton as unstoppable star quarterback, Superman, the new kid with the new wave brashness, physical dominance, and the NFL’s MVP.

Super Bowl 50

It all came to a crashing halt as the Broncos’ number-one-rated defense smashed Newton and the Panthers. They simply hit them in the mouth to win their third Super Bowl in eight tries.

Newton was sacked six times, fumbled twice, threw an interception, and looked all game about as uncomfortable as a politician in a clown suit. He could do nothing right. He was only 18-41 for 265 yards and ran for 45 yards. However, he was under duress and pressure, which has been known in time to burst pipes.

Super Bowl 50

Both Manning and Newton were awful, maybe the poorest combined performances by two quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. Manning threw for just 144 yards, fumbled, and had an interception; his QBR was 56.6. Newton was even worse with his two fumbles, both of which directly led to touchdowns by Denver.

Linebacker Von Miller haunted Newton and disrupted the Panthers’ offense. The Broncos won a Super Bowl with the fewest yards, just a record-low 194 yards total offense, the fewest by a Super Bowl winner in history.

Defense wins championships? Indeed. Newton had a chance to join Kurt Warner (1999) with St. Louis as the last regular-season MVP to also win the Super Bowl.

Carolina’s Kony Ealy was sensational also with three sacks, tying Reggie White and Darnell Dockett, and he had an interception. Miller and DeMarcus Ware were terrors off the edge.

Miller, with six tackles, two and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles was named the game’s MVP. Ware had two sacks also. Miller is so fast and disruptive that he’s only the 10th defensive player in Super Bowl history to be MVP.

Super Bowl 50

The Broncos team to a man wanted this game just a little more than Carolina. And they wanted it for Manning — they came with a mission to send him out as a winner. They were sick of hearing how powerful the Panthers were. Carolina helped by dropping balls, missing blocks, fumbles, and missing a field goal with four turnovers, two of which led to touchdowns.

Peyton is a happy man as the first starting QB to win Super Bowls with two teams, Indianapolis in 2007 and the Broncos in 2016. He’s the first QB to win 200 career games, 186 in the regular season and 14 in the playoffs.

At age 39, Manning is the oldest starting quarter back ever to win the Super Bowl. He also ties his brother Eli with two Super Bowl wins.

Teams with the NFL’s number-one-rated regular season defense have won 10 of 12 Super Bowls since 1970. The Broncos’ John Elway is the first Super Bowl-winning quarterback to also get a Super Bowl ring as the team’s general manager.

The AFC has now won 26 and the NFC 24 of the 50 Super Bowls. Super Bowl 50 on CBS Sunday was the second-highest rated ever with a rating share of 49.0/73.

Super Bowl 50

The road to Super Bowl 50

The countdown to Super Bowl 50 is here, and both 17-1 Carolina and 14-4 Denver are working hard getting ready for Sunday. This is the first Super Bowl in the San Francisco area since January 20, 1985 at Stanford Super Bowl XIX (San Francisco 38-Miami 16).

Joe Montana and Dan Marino were the quarterbacks and Bill Walsh and Don Shula were the head coaches. All four men are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This year’s game is in Santa Clara, the home of the San Francisco 49ers. Peyton Manning will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl at age 39. It could very likely be his last game. If Manning were to lead Denver to victory, he would become the first quarterback to win Super Bowlswith two different teams.

The road to Super Bowl 50

Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 win over Chicago. This has been a trying year for Manning; he led the NFL in interceptions with 17 and missed six weeks with a torn plantar fascia. But he’s back in a big way for Denver. He has had his pristine image tarnished by Al-Jazeera America’s report alleging that his wife Ashley received shipments containing HGH.

Manning’s goal and mission is clear: Win and maybe go out on top. That is easier said than done considering Carolina’s Cam Newton is just 26 and is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the highest scoring team in the NFL. The age difference between the two quarterbacks is the widest in history.

The road to Super Bowl 50

This is the second Super Bowl for Carolina in their franchise’s history. This is Super Bowl number eight for Denver, who are tied with the Steelers, Patriots and Cowboys for the most trips to the Super Bowl.

February is Black history month, and the Broncos know it all too well. Super Bowl XXII quarterback Doug Williams led Washington to victory over Denver 42-10 and became the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. He was named the game’s MVP.

Three years ago, in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson became the second Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl (Seattle 43-Denver 8) and was the game’s MVP. Newton, like Williams and Wilson, is Black. Denver again stands between Carolina winning their first Super Bowl and joining the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears with a Super Bowl 18-1 season record.

Denver's Von Miller chasing Cam Newton

Carolina scored 500 points in the regular season; Denver scored 355. That point differential of 145 is the most in Super Bowl history between two teams. Denver led the NFL in sacks with 52. Carolina forced themost turnovers with 40 and were a plus-20 in the turnover ratio.

This week I’m covering my 35th Super Bowl. Here’s how I see the game:

Denver beat Pittsburgh 23-16 and New England 20-18 to reach Super Bowl 50. Carolina beat Seattle 31-24 and Arizona 49-15. I think the Panthers are too strong for Denver and will run the ball to win 27-17.