After basking in the spotlight of a career season, the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton fell flat under the glare of the world's biggest stage.
The jovial squad known for a high-powered offense and upbeat victory dances was sombre in the locker room as media arrived following the 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
The charismatic leader whose 35-touchdown season led the team to a 15-1 regular season record and earned him title of league MVP was nowhere to be found.
And while Newton was responsible for three of the team's four turnovers, including a critical fumble with just over four minutes left in the game on the Carolina nine-yard line, team-mates were quick to call the loss was a team effort.
"It was just one of those days, everyone took turns having a negative impact on the game," said tight end Greg Olsen.
"This can't turn into the 'what happened to Cam Newton' show. When we did drive and actually move the ball consistently and score it was because of him."
Panthers' coach Ron Rivera said Newton played "pretty well" but pointed to the turnovers as the most significant factor in the loss.
"When you look at it more than anything else, the problem we had is we turned the ball over. I mean, we fumbled the ball when we really haven't fumbled the ball. A couple tipped passes that get intercepted. You're not going to win football games when you make mistakes like that," Rivera said.
In a barely audible post game interview, Newton delivered short, blunt answers that echoed the team's sentiments.
"They just played better than us, I don't know what you want me to say," said Newton.
"They made more plays than us and that's what it came down to. We had our opportunities. There wasn't nothing special that they did. We dropped balls. We turned the ball over, game up sacks, threw errant passes. That's it."
Newton didn't comment on how it felt to lose during his breakout season beyond saying "we lost". But tackle Michael Oher showed visible disappointment when asked about how things ended.
"We all wanted to win it all, we're all disappointed. Wish we could have won it for him," he said.