Jan 19, 2014 11:04 PM by Jordan Mason
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS JOHN ELWAY
On what this team has accomplished this season
"I tell you what, it has been a terrific group, they have worked their tail off this whole year, I am excited for them. They have been - the coaching staff, the players - most of all the greatest fans in America, right here."
HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
On the team's performance against the Patriots
"I tell you what, it is a great tribute to these players, this staff, I couldn't be more proud of a group of men ever in my life. This goes to them."
On what it means to beat the Patriots and Head Coach Bill Belichick in this stadium
"Bill is a great coach, a Hall of Fame coach, it's a great organization. This was a great game, two great organizations. We happened to end up on top, and they had a great season."
QB PEYTON MANNING
On what it was like to go out today and win with a 400-yard performance
"Well, Jim, it is certainly very rewarding when you put a lot of hard work into an offseason, into a regular season, and it pays dividends with a huge win, winning the AFC Championship today. Like John (Elway) said, we couldn't have done it without these fans. This team has been through a lot, we've overcome a number of obstacles this year, so it has been very gratifying to be a part of this team. We have kept our nose to the grindstone, we kept perservering, and it felt good to get this win today."
On what it means to personally have that trophy back in his hands and go back to the Super Bowl
"I've always been an AFC guy, and I was glad to stay in the AFC when I came here to Denver. I am biased towards this conference. What a heck of a day for football today, unbelievable weather, playing a great team. Great coach, great quarterback, great players, it was great to get this win."
WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS
On coming out with a tweaked knee and fighting for the win
"It means a lot. Like you said, I tweaked my knee, and I told myself, ‘I will put it all out on the field.' We had one more game to get to the Super Bowl, and I wanted to do it for the guys on my team, (for example) CB Champ Bailey."
DENVER BRONCOS HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
"I'll start out with the injury report: (RB) Knowshon Moreno left with a chest injury. That was really our only significant injury where a player left the game and did not return. Any questions?
On how his heart feels now
"It feels great. It's felt great for about eight weeks, not so much before that. My medical team did great. My wife, Robin, my nurse, did even greater. A lot of good people are the reason I'm standing here."
On Peyton Manning and his performance today
"He's been remarkable. It's been unprecedented for what he did, even a year ago, to come off from not playing, (a) very unusual injury that he was coming off of. To get to where he finished a season ago and then to start where he left off, to have the kind of season, not just today, but all season long that he's had, to me is pretty remarkable. (We're) reminded that there's still one more game."
On his top priority defensively today against the Patriots
"Again, any time you play a well-coached (team); when you get to this point, the final four, they're all good teams, well coached, maybe none more than what New England's accomplished over the years. You're going to have to play good in the red-area, play good on third down, stop the run, win in the trenches and not turn the ball over. I thought it was a pretty clean game on both sides."
On how his defense responded against the Patriots
"I think our defense has gotten better. We got beat up pretty good on the outside world. I think we've had a lot of injures. Our staff has done a terrific job. I think (defensive coordinator) Jack Del Rio stepped in and did a great job, doing two jobs is not easy while I was gone on a four-week sabbatical. It's been a lot of hard work by those players, guys that have stepped in and replaced pretty significant players. A lot has been talked about other teams, but we've lost some key guys along the way. I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys with one more outing."
On calling a timeout on fourth down
"Yeah, I think we did it twice. Before half, offensively, I'm sure people on the outside criticized that, but we were considering going for it and that was a critical fourth down situation, as well as the one defensively."
On the other timeout called on defense
"Yeah, I know which one you're talking about. I'm just bringing up another one. (laughs) I always answer your questions exactly"
On the purpose of the timeout when the Patriots had fourth-and-three
"I'm not going to go into it too much. We were in a personnel group where we're a little smaller on the ball. We got a little bigger. It ended up not being run; it was good execution on our player's part."
On why they didn't go for it on fourth down offensively
"We got the ball to start the third quarter. We wanted to put points on the board and ensure that."
On what this feels like personally considering what he's been through
"Just standing here feels pretty good because I almost wasn't. Like I said, it's gratifying whether I had and surgery or injury or anything like that. To be able to come back, be on the sideline, be in those meeting rooms, those late night meetings with the coaches, players and all the sacrifices that go into these things. It feels outstanding regardless."
On playing a tough team from the NFC
"You get to the final four; you're playing the best on the planet. We're the final one on our side and both of those teams are great teams. I think a lot has been made of ‘six seeds and this and that;' I think the top four seeds pretty much made it this time. In my opinion, all four are great teams and it should be a great game. I can't wait to, I won't say what I'll have, but to watch it."
On being excited for Champ Bailey
"I think everybody is a different situation. I really did look forward to being able to see their faces, whether it was on that stage, on the sideline when the game was in hand. To watch young people mold together and work as hard as they do and enjoy (the win), it was very gratifying."
On the impact of WR Demaryius Thomas
"He's a great player. He was an extra captain this week and we don't just hand that out for nothing. I think he's had a tremendous season; he's a tremendous talent as well as a young man. He's a great young man, I'm very proud of him."
On the chess match with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
"I don't get into that. They don't even let us on the field; I got out there a couple times and I got yelled at. You just do your best to prepare your guys and heck, Bill Belichick is the best there is. He's a Hall of Fame coach, done a tremendous job. He'd tell you the same thing, I think. You show me a good coach and we'll show you some good players. Everybody has their moments and we were a little better today."
On getting the opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl after a number of years of not making it
"You know, I've known good friends, good coaches that have done this for 30 years and never been. I tend to look at the glass a little bit more ‘half-full' than empty. I feel very blessed. This is my fourth championship game and getting ready to head to my third Super Bowl either as an assistant coach or head coach. I'll be honest with you, I feel very blessed about that opportunity."
On his personal glass this evening
"Oh, it's going to be empty really fast, just so you know...especially the first one."
On Wes Welker speaking to at the team meeting on Saturday night
"I'm still wondering how that got out, but yeah, I have a player speak every Saturday night. I figured out in my time doing this, they get sick of listening to me talk. I give them a little bit different perspective and Wes (Welker) did a tremendous job. It is personal, so I'm not going to go into exacts. He answered the bell pretty well."
On if there was something that jumped about New England that he focused on this week in preparation
"We've been pretty good against the run all year, we really have. We threw a clunker against San Diego in the regular season here on Thursday night; that happens over 16 games. That's something you're really going to have to ask them. We knew they were very good at both (run and pass), they've proven worthy. Like I said, you don't just stroll into a championship game not doing some pretty good things through the season. I think our guys responded. We did well. We have been pretty good in the run. They're a very capable team throwing the football as well, and have been. It was just a classic matchup and a great game and I was proud to be a part of it."
DENVER BRONCOS PLAYERS
QB PEYTON MANNING
On if he expected to be heading to the Super Bowl after everything he's been through
"I can't say that for sure. I was truly taking things slowly, kind of phase by phase. Nobody could give me a real timetable or prediction as far as physical recovery. I had never switched teams before. I had no idea how long it would take to form some chemistry-offensively-to get comfortable with the culture. I talked to some other players that had changed teams and I think it depends on the individual-how you mesh with your new teammates, how comfortable you are in your new surroundings. So the folks here in Denver-the city and the organization-made me feel welcome, that has certainly been very helpful. I have put a lot of hard work in; a lot of people-teammates, coaches, trainers-have helped me along the way. So we've definitely come a long way in the last two years and bouncing back from last year's playoff loss to put ourselves in this position, it feels very gratifying."
On what it feels like to get back to a Super Bowl
"Well, it's an exciting feeling. I can remember both times we won the AFC Championship. I'm an AFC guy, I'm biased to this conference. I think it's a hard conference to win. You feel like you've done something to win the championship. You realize you still want to win one more game and whoever we're playing is going to be tremendous opponent, whether it's San Francisco or Seattle. You do take a moment to realize that we've done something special here and you certainly want to win one more."
On if there is some relief to have made it to this point
"There is still one more game to play. I think we will enjoy this and you definitely have to take time to savor the moment. I know I certainly will, being in my 16th season going to my third Super Bowl. I know how hard it is to get there, it's extremely difficult. You do have to take a moment and enjoy the locker room with your teammates and enjoy dinner tonight with your family and friends. I think it's important to do that and I will do that. Then starting tomorrow we'll start preparing for whoever it is we're playing."
On if the crossing routes were what clicked for the offense today
"I thought [Offensive Coordinator] Adam [Gase] had a good game plan. We thought we did have to run some crossing patterns, New England has a physical secondary, if you're running all straight and vertical down the field-you know, intermediate routes-that's tough. You have to have some of that, but also crossing routes. That's what we learned and that's what some of our notes were coming out of the first time we played them. So I thought Adam had a good game plan. I think they do a great job of taking away your key receiver. With us, we've spread the ball around so well all season, it's hard to know who really to key on. On any given play one of five guys could get the ball. I think that puts pressure on a defense."
On if he was nervous when the Patriots decided to go for the two-point conversion in the second half
"Look, certainly we kept wanting to score points. We know how much pride that organization has and how explosive [Patriots QB] Tom Brady on offense can be at any time. So every time we got the ball we were trying to be aggressive, we were trying to score touchdowns. We were really disappointed when we had to settle for a field goal when we had the ball on the 2-yard line, we had a close play to [TE] Julius [Thomas] and we just couldn't come up with it. Certainly we were looking to score touchdowns and try to make it a two-score, three-score lead. We were disappointed we weren't able to do that early in the game. Our defense did a good job stopping them on that two-point conversion. It was nice two weeks in a row to finish the game with the ball. I thought Adam was aggressive, we were throwing it on that last drive and I thought that made a big difference."
On the importance of having two 7-minute scoring drives and keeping Brady on the Patriots' sideline
"To keep Tom Brady on the sidelines is a good thing (laughter). That is something that you try to do when you're playing against the Patriots. We did a good job on third downs converting. I thought our first- and second-down stuff was good. Our field position was never very good, and to overcome two holding penalties it seemed like-or at least that one holding penalty on the one drive, we had a first down and they backed us up-we were still able to overcome that and then overcome a couple of more. That was a good thing. You try to eliminate those penalties, but if you have them you want to be able to overcome them. I thought we did a good job maintaining possession of the football. It would have been nice to score more touchdowns as opposed to field goals, but it was certainly enough to win."
On CB Champ Bailey heading to his first ever Super Bowl
"I'm certainly happy for Champ, I know a lot of people are. There's a guy-let's see, Champ's one year younger than me so he's in his 15th season-like I said it's hard to get to the Super Bowl. It's hard to win it, but I'm telling you it's hard to get there. I'm happy for Champ. I know he's excited. He played well today, I'm glad that he's back out there on the field. He's battled through some injuries and has stayed at it and been committed to his rehab. I know he's excited and I'm certainly happy for him."
On brother and New York Giants QB Eli Manning having won the Super Bowl in Indianapolis and now Peyton has a chance to win it in New York
"I guess that's pretty coincidental that it worked out that way---that Eli and the Giants played in Indianapolis and we get a chance to play in New York. Our team is excited. We know we're going to play a heck of a opponent. We'll address that once we find out who it is and when we talk next week. But our team is going to savor this one, this one was a good team victory. You could rename the AFC Championship after the Patriots, they've been here so many times. And they know how to win big games. To beat them is a significant win. I thought our fans were outstanding, I thought they made a big difference. It looked like crowd noise may have been a factor for them. I know our offense thrived on the energy that the fans provided today and that was certainly important."
On if he wanted to go for it on fourth down before halftime instead of kicking the field goal
"I'm all for whatever [Head] Coach [John] Fox wants to do. I think you have to be prepared to go for it so that you're not surprised if he says to go for it. You're thinking go for it, if he wants to kick a field goal then let's kick a field goal. That was good to get points on that possession. We started backed up-that's when we had the holding penalty--once again would have liked to score touchdowns, so we'll continue to work on our red zone (offense). We knew we were getting the ball back first series of second half, and we were able to get a touchdown on that drive."
On the adversity the offensive line has faced this season
"Those guys have been through-like you said-a great deal of adversity. They've overcome a lot of obstacles. I'm extremely proud of [C] Manny [Ramirez]. I remember all offseason long, Manny was working center but he was probably the second-team center, and then we signed Dan Koppen so Manny found out then he was probably the third-team center. He has just continued to work. And playing in Indianapolis-for as seasoned a center as you could possibly have in Jeff Saturday-it has been a change. Manny and I have continued to communicate and talk, take snaps every single day, always talking scenarios and he's just gotten better and better. He's one of our strongest guys on the team, and I'm just proud of the way he's improved all season. [T] Chris Clark replacing [injured T] Ryan Clady-arguably the best left tackle in the game-that is not an easy job to replace, and just proud of the way he's improved and seized that opportunity. Really it's been a close-knit unit, and those guys played great today and I'm real proud of them."
On his postgame conversation with Patriots QB Tom Brady
"Tom congratulated me and wished me luck. I said I told him what a great player-I've said to him a number of times-what a great player that I think that he is. He was very classy in his conversation with me."
On how important this week is with all the distractions during Super Bowl Week
"I've found it is important. I know Coach Fox will address our plan tomorrow, and how we plan to prepare for this week and next week, and I think that it is very important to get to know your opponent this week while you have somewhat of a normal itinerary."
On the bobbled shotgun snap in the first quarter
"I don't know. We run a ton of shotgun, and we all know that, so Manny and I have taken a number of snaps. It was a good snap. New England does a great job disguising coverages and you do want to get a post-snap read on their coverages and your job is to look the ball in, and I'm not sure I looked it in all the way. I was trying to get a read on [DB Devin] McCourty or [S Steve] Gregory, and I thought I had it then I bobbled it again. I was glad to finally get a hold of the grip and get the laces, and I know my quarterbacks coach [Greg Knapp] will be proud of me that I was still able to go through my progression on that play and find an open receiver."
On if he knew it was going to be a good day when they made a good play out of the bobbled snap
"It doesn't guarantee you anything. I was smiling a little bit and laughing that was a pretty unique play. I'm sure some people will have some fun with me when we're watching the game film tomorrow on that particular play."
On why they ran the ball on third-and-long in the second quarter and if it was a called running play
"Adam and I always talk situations, and we were on the 40 and we need five yards to ensure a field goal, to ensure points at that particular point on the field. So, we're calling a play looking for the first down and wasn't 100 percent sure that the play we had was going to get us the first down. It had a chance to possibly be an incompletion, and I just thought I'd hate to have to punt from here on the 40 when we did have a pretty good drive just to get to that point. I thought New England was playing pass coverage, and so we did audible to a run play and we got it versus the right look. Really we should have gotten 10 yards, and I thought that is what should occur once I made that check. I knew for sure we would have gotten into [K Matt] Prater's range. It was a good run by [RB] Knowshon [Moreno], but really we just got it against the right defense."
On if he smelled "blood in water" when Patriots CB Aqib Talib was injured
"Talib is an excellent player, but [WR] Demaryius [Thomas] was going to be part of the game plan no matter who was guarding him. Once Talib went down we thought we certainly have to get the ball to Demaryius again. Once again, we've spread the ball around pretty well all season and I thought today was a good example of what we did all season, spreading the ball around."
On locker room being happiest for him because of the criticism he gets in defeat
"I think playing quarterback there are certainly a number of things that come along with it-being the starting quarterback of an NFL franchise. You have to try to keep a level head after a win, after a loss, not get too high or too low. That advice has served me well, I'm glad my teammates are happy for me and I'm happy for them. This truly has been a team this year. We pull for one another, we support each other. We're happy for guys. You have to eventually focus on doing your job. Playing quarterback is what I was focused on today-nothing more than that. We prepared hard. We knew we were playing a good football team that was well coached, and I thought we executed our game plan and that's what I was focused on all week."
On Coach Fox not getting as much credit as the other head coaches of the final four teams
"Coach Fox has been through a lot this season, and nobody can really understand what his health scare was and just how he felt during that time. Our team supported him while he was away, and we were glad to get him back. If you're a head coach and you're leading a team to the Super Bowl you deserve a ton of credit. He's been our leader, the players have rallied around him and he has kept us working hard during these last couple weeks and the postseason, and he's prepared to do that again this week. We're glad he's our head coach and our leader."
RB MONTEE BALL
On making it to the Super Bowl
"It's unbelievable. I think us rookies are spoiled because we came into a great program and a great organization."
On his improved play
"It feels great; I hit my stride at the right time. Better late than never, I always said that and finally things started clicking for me. I just want to make plays for my teammates."
On when he realized the Broncos' were going to the Super Bowl
"It hit me once the confetti fell and fans were screaming and players were running around. It was like, ‘wow we did it.'"
On the offense's game plan
"That was our scheme coming into this game; keep the ball in our hands and kill the clock and execute on every play, and it worked."
On QB Peyton Manning
"Hats off to him, he's a great man off the field, a great leader and a great person to follow because he does everything right."
On the Patriots
"Every NFL team is great. It's the NFL, it's the best of the best, so I came into this game thinking it was going to come down to the last play but we came out on top, we executed the plays better. The Patriots played well, they had a great season and we all know what they're capable of doing."
On the fans
"The fans were great. We feed off the fans, and they were loud. That was a very loud game; you heard the thunder, the fans stomping on the bleachers-it was great."
On the Broncos' mindset coming into the game
"There was no tomorrow. That was our mindset coming into this game, do everything you can to come out the victor today."
DE SHAUN PHILLIPS
On making it to the Super Bowl
"This is surreal. When you play this game, you play to win Super Bowls, you want to make as much money as you can, make pro bowls and all that but you also want to win a Super Bowl in this league."
On his expectations going into the year
"I think I'm going to win the Super Bowl every single year. I've never played and didn't think that I was going to win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately it doesn't always happen that way."
On the turning point this year for the Broncos' defense
"The magic moment was a guy like you doubting us and calling us average, saying that we're an average defense at best and I spread it across the locker room and guys started playing better and stepping up."
On DT Terrance Knighton
"When it comes to leadership, it's between me and Terrance [Knighton]. Those guys go as we go, and that's been a big thing for us. Terrance [Knighton] and I have been playing better football and we've been bringing those guys along with us. His football IQ is unbelievable, and he spreads that knowledge to the younger guys."
On the chip on the defenses' shoulders
"We have a chip on our shoulders because we know in order for us to win we (the defense) has to play well. We expect QB Peyton [Manning] to play well all the time because he's one of the best players to ever play the game, but we have to do what we do on our side of the ball to make sure we keep the ball in his hands and give him a chance to win."
On the Broncos' ability to defend the run
"We've been playing really good football lately, especially against the run. We take our hats off to those guys. Nothing against them, but this was one of those games where we wanted it a little more than they did."
CB CHAMP BAILEY
On what it feels like to make his first Super Bowl appearance
"That's what it's all about - get yourself to have a chance to get in the big one and that's where we are now. We'll enjoy this one for a couple days and then get right on the homework for whoever we play next."
On if it has sunk in that he is going to the Super Bowl
"Maybe in the morning, but we're going to enjoy this one. We don't have but two weeks to get it out of our system and get ready to go again. That's all that we got to concentrate on right now."
On if he feels like he is close to being back health wise
"I don't put damaged goods on the field so that's just how I am. I'm not going to put damaged goods out there. We're all banged up - we all got something to deal with. It's not about my health. I mean I feel good and it showed today and I'm just looking forward to the next one."
On how this group was able to overcome everything this year to win this game
"Well every team goes through something. Even New England, they went through a lot this year and they ended up here as well. These guys starting with our head coach, he's done a great job of making us understand the moments and taking advantage of them. I think with his absence and coming back we just found a way to win and keep going and that really (is a) credit to him because he made sure that we're prepared for things like that."
On New England not being able to establish its running game
"Well they didn't play the Broncos last week. They are a good running football team but we got some guys up front that don't like that and they're going to do whatever it takes to stop that run and that's really what it's all about, the guys up front."
On battling through injuries this season and not knowing if he could return
"Well I knew I would come back. You might not have known but I knew I'd be back at some point. My coaches, teammates they never gave up on me. They knew I'd be back to 100 percent at some point and here I am. I'm playing probably my best football of the year because I haven't played much (laughing) and I'm just looking forward to the next one. Just make sure my body is right for the next game."
On if he is looking forward to playing any particular team
"I'll take the Seahawks or the 49ers, how about that? It doesn't matter (laughing)."
DE ROBERT AYERS
On what DT Terrance Knighton has brought to the team
"He can do it all. He can rush. He's a big guy. He can stop the run. He brings a lot to the table - he brings leadership and he commands double team on the run. Not too many guys out there can handle a one-on-one and that's the thing he brings and that's what we love about (him). He's always working and he's a great guy."
On Knighton not having a sack in several weeks and if it was his time for one
"Definitely. He may not have had a sack, but you can't always put a stat on what he brings to the table. He's always getting pressure. You look at a lot of the games, he's always getting QB hits and so he means a lot to this d-line. He gets us in check with what we want to do and he's a great player. He's always getting to the quarterback."
On what Ayers did on his sack
"We knew what [QB] Tom [Brady] liked to set up at. That was the thing we were locked on and [T] Nate Solder] he's pretty good at running guys around so my game plan was to try to beat him with power or to beat him inside because of how he sets. On that play I was able to fake him outside and come in and get a sack. It was a complete game. Without the coverage I wouldn't have been able to get there."
On being able to go to the Super Bowl close to home
"It's big for me. Being from there - my dad and my mom and all my family, my grandmothers. You know it's big. I'm just right around the corner literally from where the stadium is so for them to be able to see me play in my hometown, I'm speechless and I'm looking forward to it."
On him and RB Knowshon Moreno being drafted together in 2009 draft and playing back in their home state
"Oh yeah. We proved a lot of people wrong and we want to keep doing that. We want to keep fighting, we want to keep getting better and we feel like we're good players on this team and we want to keep winning. We want to win the big one."
WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS
On if the team targeted New England CB Alfonzo Dennard
"My goal before this game, was whoever was checking me, just try to go out there and try to get open every time I have a route called my way. That's what I tried to do."
On if New England CB Alfonzo Dennard covering him was a coincidence rather than the Broncos targeting him
"Maybe but I don't know. But I know whenever they gave me a route I ran it to the best of my ability and tried to get open and did what I did and Peyton (Manning) gave me some chances to make some plays."
On if he was surprised that the Broncos were able to put long drives together
"Surprised a little but I really wasn't. Usually we score fast but we had a 14-play drive and I got to the sideline, that's all everybody was talking about. I didn't know. I just knew we scored. That's the main thing is scoring a touchdown because we knew coming into this game we had to score touchdowns instead of field goals. We were able to get two or three touchdowns to help us out."
On the play of Broncos QB Peyton Manning
"It was amazing. He threw for 400 (yards). What can you say? AFC Championship Game. He was amazing."
On if he ever stops to marvel at the passes Broncos QB Peyton Manning makes
"I've been saying that this whole year because he did it a lot this year. I take my hat off to Peyton (Manning). He did a great job today."
On the next game being the Super Bowl
"We'll figure out who we play later on tonight. That's all I can really say about that. We're happy to make it. It's a dream come true. I'm so happy to be a Bronco right now and that's about it."
On the "message" Broncos WR Wes Welker sent when he hit New England CB Aqib Talib
"I don't know if it was a message. It was kind of like a pick play. It was a big collision and it knocked him out of the game. The main thing was to come out and play physical as a whole group and that's what we did."
On if this was the best the offense has been all year
"I think it was great what the offense did. We were capable of converting first, second, third downs and putting points on the board almost every time we got the ball. But like I said, it was a team thing this time. I take my hat off to everybody on our team, coaches, this organization. We did a great job."
On the key to his personal performance
"I was nervous at the beginning of the week and I feel like if I play well, everybody will play well. My main thing was going out, putting up great football and that's what I did. Everybody played good."
On the difference it made when New England CB Aqib Talib was out of the game
"To tell you the truth, I really don't know. I told myself throughout the week, he did a great job with me the first game and I said I wasn't going to the let that happen again. It was a big factor because he is their best corner. He is one of the best in the game. It just happened like that. I took advantage of whoever I had on me."
On the play of Denver's offensive line
"You know, I think it starts with the offensive line. They've been doing a great job this whole year. That's why we're in this great position because they're giving Peyton (Manning) a lot of time to throw. I take my hat off those guys. They played a very good game."
WR ERIC DECKER
On how he felt after the game
"It's a moment that I'll cherish forever. What we've been through, throughout the year, how we finished last year, everybody deserves to be in at this point, and I think it just shows how we stuck together and now we have an opportunity to play in the big game in a couple of weeks."
On letting loose and celebrating today
"We're very fortunate and blessed to be in this situation, so you have to enjoy it. I think all of the hard work that we put in throughout the week paid off. New England is a tough team, they know what it takes to get to the Super Bowl, and they've been in this game a lot, so for us to come out and play how we did was very fun and very exciting. I'm definitely going to enjoy this."
On some of the older guys on the team making it to their first Super Bowl
"You hear stories from them and you understand, again, this isn't going to come every year. You have to blessed and thankful to be in this position, and guys like [CB] Champ Bailey that have put a lot into football and gave a lotto the NFL, is a future Hall-of-Famer, to get an opportunity to be in the Super Bowl is what the young guys really cherish and push for."
On this being the goal since last year's loss to the Ravens on Jan. 12, 2013
"This is the next step, the building block to our chapter and we have a lot of work we have to do in two weeks. To be there, to get there is a sweet feeling and I think a lot of us are going to cherish this today and tomorrow and then get back to work."
DT TERRANCE KNIGHTON
On how it feels to be in the Super Bowl
"It's great. We're going to enjoy this victory tonight and get back to work tomorrow and get ready. We still have one game left that's not over yet, but we're definitely going to enjoy this."
On the two-handed swipe that he put on [Patriots' G] Logan Mankins
"A lot of times I'll be watching film, last game I felt like I could have done the same move. The protection lined up right, the same thing I was seeing on film, I knew exactly were I was going to get and I just had to make the play."
On the losses they've had this year and how much this means despite that
"I think the losses we've had this year, New England came back on us, San Diego beating us, injuries; I think that's molded us into the team we are now. No team has gotten this far without any adversity; we just wanted to respond to it and like I said, I'm just excited, I don't even know what to say right now, I'm just glad we went out and played our best football."
On growing up with guys playing football, what it's like for him right now
"I'm going to share it with them. You know I have one game left, they're blowing up my phone, I love that right now, but we have one game left and that's our goal. This wasn't our goal to make it there; our goal was to win it so we still have some business to handle.
CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE
On keeping QB Tom Brady in check all game long
"Give it up to [CB] Chris (Harris Jr.) he was like a coach being out. He stayed on the sidelines, and he told us most of the time whether they were going to run or what they were going to be in. And give it up to [Broncos' CB's] Tony Carter, Quentin Jammer and Kayvon Webster for stepping in and filling (Harris') spot."
On holding the Patriots to three points through three quarters
"Yeah, it wasn't a shock. We really game-planned for them and went out and executed; and any time a team is on the road like that and execute, it's going to be hard."
On going to the Super Bowl
"That's a great feeling, great feeling. Honored. We had a long season, had a lot of ups and downs, but we stayed together and kept fighting and we are headed there."
On the defense coming into today's game with a chip on their shoulder
"Yes, sir. Coming in with the two quarterbacks you have in Peyton (Manning) and Tom Brady, you always talk about a shootout, who's going to play the better game. So our main thing was just going out there and just trying to get the ball back to our offense."
WR WES WELKER
On this game meaning more against his old team
"I mean now that's it over. I try not to think about it too much as the week went on. I just tried to focus on me, and going out there and winning. Obviously it means a lot either way. They're a great team, a great organization and I have nothing but love for those guys over there and wish them the best."
On the game changing when Patriots' CB Aqib Tabib went out with an injury
"Yeah it was one of those plays where it's kind of a rough play and I was trying to get him to go over the top, and I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided. It wasn't a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that, I hope he's ok, he's a great player and a big part of their defense."
On what he's most proud of
"It's all about guys just stepping up and playing hard, believing in the system, the team and the guys around them. That's what it takes. It's not an easy game, the NFL is tough and guys just stepped up."
LB PARIS LENON
On the key to the defense coming together is
"Just playing physical up front, guys making plays, focusing on details and getting 11 guys swarming to the ball."
On what the emotion of getting to the Super Bowl
"It's big man, but honestly I have one more football game this season; so that's all I'm concerned about. It's a heck of an accomplishment, but I want the next one."
LB DANNY TREVATHAN
On if they played more zone coverage in the fourth quarter
"Yeah, we tried to play a little zone. We just tried to toy with them a little bit but we just played our scheme. [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Jack] Del Rio did a fantastic job today. Learn from his mistakes and learn my mistakes. We were out there coordinating. It's just a good vibe around here right now and it's just guys willing to work and I love playing with these guys and I'd die out there on the field with them."
On how inspiring it is for Head Coach John Fox to get the win after coming back from aortic valve replacement surgery to beat New England and Head Coach Bill Belichick
"It's definitely big because it's the next game. But you know they got their little rivalries. They always tell us stick within ourselves and not look at the outside world. Everybody is going to talk. Like I said, I keep saying that because everybody, they are going to talk. You got to be able to play. That's what the NFL (is) about - being a playmaker and making plays. Coach Fox did a good job this week instilling in us finish man, finish and I think we finished. They kind of had a little turn of the tide but I feel like we finished pretty strong."
On stopping New England on their two-point conversion attempt and if it was significant
"Oh, yeah. That was like a big key in the game right there. They tried us - tried to go for two-point(s) and guys stepped up and made a play and we kept them out and it was the turn of the tide. Our offense got the ball with the momentum going and it definitely kept us going."
On the team battling injuries and if this defense is about reserves stepping up
"This defense is about next man up and guys playing with that emotion - playing for the guys next to you. A lot of people say our defense (is) going to be this and that. I laugh at it because a lot of people talked about me coming up out of Kentucky all this and that. He's (a) sixth round (draft pick), he run(s) a 4.9 (40-yard dash) or whatever. But football is football and if somebody steps on this field they're going to have to play their best football against us."
NEW ENGLAND HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
"It is always a tough way to end a season like that, but you've got to give Denver a lot of credit today. Coach Fox, his staff, and obviously the players. They did a good job, did a better job than we did. I thought we played hard, I thought we were ready to go. We just didn't make enough plays, just didn't do things quite well enough. Denver did better than we did today and that is why they deserve to win and they'll move on. So, congratulations to them. I'm proud of our football team, proud of everything we did this year. We got a lot of guys in that locker room that played hard, played well, gave everything they had all season long, and you know I'm proud to be their coach. I just wish it could have ended a little better for us today. Again, give Denver credit. They did a good job."
On the hit that took CB Aqib Talib out of the game permanently
"As it turned out, that was a key play in the game, if you take a look at it on the replay. I thought it was a key play in the game. I'll have to take a look at it on the film. It was a key play in the game. I'll say he's a key player for us."
On Talib's desire to return to the game
"Yeah, of course. There's no more competitive guy in that locker room then Aqib Talib."
On the significance of failing to convert on 4th-and-3
"Yeah, right. There were a lot of key plays. Yeah, it was."
On not running the ball successfully today
"The idea is to score points and we just didn't score enough points. Obviously, they did some things to try to take that away. It wasn't unexpected. We just weren't able to score enough points and we gave up too many. So, it's as simple as that."
On the offense being too one-dimensional
"Well, they needed to score more points. (Asked if he means the running game) I didn't say that. We needed to score more points."
On lack of third down conversions
"We didn't do a good enough job. We were able to hold them to some field goals defensively, but our third-down defense and our third down offense, especially in the first half weren't in it. We let them get too far ahead and they stayed on the field. They had the ball and had field position and there were even a couple times we just held them to field goals we still didn't have possession of the ball, didn't have a chance to do much, just trying to keep them out of the end zone. I mean, that's okay, but it would be a lot better if we could use it on third down and get the ball back. And, conversely we weren't able to do it offensively."
On not making the two-point conversion in the fourth quarter
"Well, that would have changed the game quite a bit. We obviously didn't do a good job on that play either. We had some opportunities that had we done a little bit better with them would have put ourselves in a better position. That would certainly have changed our strategy. It would have been an eight-point game instead of a 10-point game. That certainly would have changed the strategy."
On not putting enough pressure on Broncos QB Peyton Manning
"They did a good job of mixing up plays and as always he did an excellent job of reading the defenses and he got us in some situations that were less than ideal with his astute play calling and recognition. We disguised and I think we got him a few times but he certainly got us a few times, too. And they've got a lot of good players. They're a tough team to match up against with all the skill players they have; (running) backs, tight ends, receivers. They have, obviously a good football team, a good offensive system, and a good quarterback."
On reflecting on the overall season
"No, not now. Not right now."
On his handshake with Broncos Head Coach John Fox after the game
"Yeah, I talked to John after the game, I sure did. Told him it was a good win for him. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's been a great coach, back from the days when he was a coordinator with the (New York) Giants and Carolina (Panthers). He does a good job. I respect him. I have a lot of respect for him and the entire football team. I wish him well."
On his thoughts on QB Tom Brady being less accurate today
"The bottom line was they just did a better job than we did. That's really the bottom line. I don't think it's about any one player or any one play. There were a lot of opportunities in the game had we been able to coach better, play better, execute better, any one of those areas would have given us a better chance, but we were up against another good football team and they were better than we were today. Give them a lot of credit for what they did. They did a good job."
On his postgame comments to the team
"I'll keep that between me and the team but what I'll say here is that I wouldn't take back anything that I've said. I'm proud of the team, proud to be their coach. I thought they played hard all year, played competitively every single week, some weeks we played better than others but there was never a lack of effort or toughness. Everybody trying to do their best, and I totally respect the team for that, and what they did. I'm proud to be their coach. That's how I feel about it."
On him having a strong coaching year despite injuries and set-backs
"I don't really think about that, I just think about this game and trying to come out here and win this game and the AFC Championship. That's really the only thing that's in my mind, all the rest of it is a bunch of hot air."
On how long he will think about this game before he puts it behind him
"I don't know. It's a good question. Unfortunately, we've been here before. We've won AFC Championship games and we've lost them, so, we'll move on. We have to. We're ahead of a lot of the other teams in the league, all except one, actually, in the AFC, in terms of the offseason so we have a little bit of catching up to do. So, starting tomorrow we are on to 2014."
On the Broncos ranking as the toughest team he's ever faced
"They're very much that, physically and mentally tough. I don't know about ranking them and all that because there are different make-ups of the teams and the players and so forth, but this team (New England) worked hard from first day of OTA's, in the offseason program through the OTA's, minicamp, training camp, regular season, and they worked hard daily all day long and I think they improved quite a bit through the year. I think that's how you do improve. You take the instruction that you're given, you work hard on it, and you get positive results, you build on those, correct your mistakes. Build on your positive results and keep going. I think as a team they've done that and individually that's been kind of the trademark of the players on this team. Making corrections, working hard, moving on, trying to get better, not getting caught up in what happened in the past, but just trying to do a better job the next time out and I think that improvement served us well all year. I wish we could have done a little bit of a better job today. Especially me. "
On specific areas where he wished he did better
"Anytime you lose a game like this there's definitely things that you don't feel great about and there's definitely things that I don't feel great about, and that shouldn't come as any big surpise. But, it's in the books, so we can't do anything about it except look back on it, mark it and move on. There are some calls, some plays we'd like to have back, I'm sure everybody who competed in the game would like to have some back. It's tough when your season ends. It happens suddenly but that's the way that it is. We know that's the situation of the playoffs. One team moves on, one team doesn't. You come to a sudden stop. But again, I'll say this, whatever mistakes that were made in that game, by me and by everybody else, were all made with the intention of doing what was best. Not everything worked out best but it was done with the intention of doing what was best and trying their best to make it work. It didn't always work but the effort and the intent to do the right thing, I definitely felt like that was there, and it's been there all year."