HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAK
On if the biggest mismatch of the game was the Broncos defensive front against the Patriots offensive line
"I know we played great defense all day long. I think you look at both teams—two good football teams with two young offensive lines in a lot of ways. We just kind of—we held true to what we are. We won a lot of games this year just grinding as a football team, playing great defense, and we played tremendous today and making the play at the right time. Just so proud of our football team. We've got great respect for the Patriots. Great victory [and I'm] just very proud of our team."
On his immediate reaction to the win
"It is amazing just standing out there and look up at the crowd. First off, our fans were just tremendous today. As you all well know, I've been a part of this organization for a long time in a lot of different categories, but to stand up there today as the head coach and be a part of [Owner] Mr. [Pat] Bowlen's family and this organization, this football team—very proud today."
On what was going through his mind on the Patriots' two fourth-down plays that set up their score in the final minute
"The biggest thing, we just kept talking. 'Okay, if they score, they've still got to go for two.' So that was part of the conversation. We were down two safeties. There were a couple times we didn't have enough guys on the field. We called timeout on the two-point play because [OLB] DeMarcus [Ware] was beat up, took himself out and we weren't going to play another play without him out there, not if I could help it. Just a lot of things going on. I'm trying to think about how do we go about overtime. A lot of things happening, but boy, defensively we were just tremendous."
On OLB Von Miller's performance
"You know what, he's been that way all year. He's been a special player, but being an Aggie, I'm really proud of him. He's a special young man. I've known him since he was a kid. How far he's come, the man he's become, the player he's become, the leader on this football team—and today, along with the defense, he was big time."
On if he used Ware as an example in his pregame message to the team
"The night before the game, I always talk to the guys, but I'll have one player address the football team before we call it a night. I let DeMarcus do that. I could sit here all day and talk about it, but he was just tremendous for this team. He basically told them how much the opportunity to possibly play for a Super Bowl meant to him and how much it meant for him to be a part of the team. It was very powerful."
On QB Peyton Manning's season
"I'm so proud of him. I sit here and reflect on some of the meetings he and I had throughout the course of these last 10 weeks and some of the conversations we had. To sit there right there and talk about the opportunity we have here in two weeks—I'm just so proud of him. He worked hard to get back. I knew about three weeks ago or four weeks ago through a discussion we had that he was ready to come back and lead this football team, and he's done a tremendous job."
On if TE Owen Daniels was intended to be a big part of the early game plan
"You know what, that might be easy for me to say that because he had two touchdowns, but no. They played us a certain way. We knew it was going to be extremely hard to run the ball, but we refused—as long as the game was the way it was, we were not going to run away from it, you know what I mean? We said, 'Heck, let's just keep pounding, keep pounding.' But O.D. did make some great plays. The first drive was tremendous. After that, it was tough sledding the rest of the day, but that's the type of game it was for both of us."
On Manning's 12-yard run in the third quarter
"That goes through all that work he was doing over the course of the last 10 weeks. He's going to do what he has to do to win. I know that. I mean he's one of the greatest competitors ever in this league. For him to take off and make that play—guys, I can't tell you how he has led this group the last three weeks. It's been tremendous."
On the injury status of S Darian Stewart and S T.J. Ward
"I was asked that a while ago. I really don't know. I think the only thing I would say is that maybe T.J. is feeling a little bit better than Stew right now. I don't know what that should mean, but I think we'll see. We've got two weeks, so we'll see."
On if Manning's leadership has been different since he returned from injury
"No, I mean he's been the same guy that started the season, but I'm just saying you go back and you look at the second half [against] San Diego. For him to step in the huddle, take over the group and the way—this football team just believes he's going to get it done. The big key for us the last 10 quarters of football that we've played is we've had one turnover. That was today, and it's been a difference for our team and has a lot to do with why we get a chance to play another game.
QUARTERBACK PEYTON MANNING
On what today's victory means to him
"There is no question this is a sweet day, this was a sweet victory. To me, this victory is a great example of what this entire season has been like. It hasn't been easy. It's been a lot of different people stepping up and doing their parts at different times. Starters, non-starters becoming starters. Both our safeties get hurt today, we got some guys go in there and step up and help us get that win, so it's been a unique season. There's no question about it. And this game today was a unique football game, but everybody did their part, and it truly was a team game."
On staying committed to the run
"We knew it would be a challenge running the ball. They have an excellent front. They have some stout guys out there. I feel like we had to stay committed to it just to try to create some balance and not become one-dimensional where we throw it every time. We played these guys last year and that's what happened. We got behind, we do it every time, and they can force you to do that and that's not a good recipe to have a chance to beat those guys. And so, keeping some kind of balance, whether you're productive or not, that was important."
On how he read the defense
"They dropped a lot of guys in coverage and we sent five guys out. We were trying to find a hole in there, either on the front side or the back side, and they had it covered well. Obviously the first drive [of the second half], we wanted to lead it to points, but one thing they did do was change field position, and [Broncos P Britton] Colquitt was awesome, [Broncos CB] Kayvon [Webster] was awesome, downing those punts down on the 4-yard line. We had two possessions In a row where we didn't have points, but we changed field position and it was that kind of game in the second half.
On facing Tom Brady for the 17th time
"I'm not going to get into what-if scenarios. But I've stated it all week, I've stated it in my entire career, I have great respect for Tom as a player, as a friend and for the job he's done for that franchise and for Coach [Bill] Belichick. I think this is my 17th time playing against the Patriots when Tom Brady was the quarterback, I think it's about the 24th time playing against Bill Belichick as the defensive coordinator or the head coach, so I can't get away from either of those guys. Just like today, it's always been a tremendous challenge when you play against both of them together, especially. But my hat's off to their entire team. [Patriots LB Jamie] Collins was awesome, [Patriots S Devin] McCourty was awesome. All those guys on defense really played well today, I thought."
On returning to the Super Bowl
"It's hard to say. I really tried to take it one week at a time all season long, through my injuries and through some of the other things that have gone on, just kind of staying in the moment and taking it one week at a time. Not assuming this is how it's going to be, this is the final decision here one way or another, so [I'm] trying to take it one week at a time, stay patient, and I think that's served me well. Staying patient in these past two playoff games has served our team well and it's also definitely served me well."
On staying patient during his injury
"It's not really time to reflect. We have two weeks to play. We're going to play a team that we are completely unfamiliar with. There's going to be a lot of film to study, so I think, once again, just trying to stay in the moment. We'll enjoy this victory tonight. This was a special victory; it was a heck of a game. But I think just kind of what I was saying earlier, just sort of taking it one week at a time and staying patient. That's kind of been the advice I try to follow and I think that's served me well so far."
On his physical condition
"Certainly, as frustrating as it is to have an injury in a certain part of body and you have to miss time, I think it can be a positive for other parts, so I feel pretty good."
On celebrating with his family
"It's special. Coach Kubiak talked about it during the week, about soaking it up for everybody. He mentioned [Broncos OLB] DeMarcus [Ware], the year that he's had and the limited amount of playoff games he's been in. It's not something that you take for granted. No matter how old you are, whether you're coach Kubiak, [Defensive Coordinator] Wade Phillips or [CB] Taurean Nixon, our rookie corner who just got activated this week in time for the AFC Championship and Super Bowl, so to enjoy that and soak it up, it's the games and the fans and the moments with your family after the game as well."
On the first quarter
"New England does a great job of getting the lead, getting ahead of you and making you play catch-up and getting you out of your offense. It didn't look good the first two plays; had a bad first play and second play they made a good pass breakup and converted a good third down. [Broncos WR] Emmanuel [Sanders] made a good play, and then we found a little rhythm, converted a couple third downs and [Broncos TE] Owen [Daniels] was awesome down there in the red zone. I know Owen wanted this game as much as anybody. I know his season ended last year [with Baltimore] in New England and for him to have two touchdowns in this game, I'm very happy for him. That ended up being the difference. That's something we talked about. I'm sure we'd love to score a ton of points, but touchdowns over field goals in the red zone would be critical. I hated the fact that [Broncos WR] Jordon Norwood and I just missed each other on that last possession. I would have loved to have gone up to a two-score game. We just missed that, so there's certainly room for improvement and we'll shoot for that this week."
On what it means to have a great defensive performance
"It was an outstanding performance against a fine football team and a great offense. They knew they were challenged all week, and they answered the challenge. I've really enjoyed playing on the same team as that defense that I'm glad I haven't had to face this season, I'll say that. They've been challenging going against in practice and going back to training camp. But it is special to watch them work and watch them perform out there on Sundays."
On how injury has changed his approach as a quarterback
"You try to do your part and contribute. When you're not able to contribute because you can't participate, you try to be patient and work yourself back into your position to be available to participate and try to make a contribution. There's different ways to do that, and there's no question it's been a different season. My role has been different, and my contributions are different. I'm fortunate and grateful that I have the opportunity to contribute still in some way, and it's a great honor going back to the Super Bowl, playing in Super Bowl 50. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a fun two weeks."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER VON MILLER
On the pass rush beating the New England offensive line
"We started the week saying that we need to be consistent in the secondary, just consistent in the rush and that was going to do it for us. I think we were able to do it today."
On OLB DeMarcus Ware's influence on his career
"He's great. When he walks in the door, he just has that 'it' about him. He's done everything the right way, a true leader. He's my idol. I've been looking up to him for a long time. It's crazy how God works. It's a true blessing to have him here. I needed him most at a time in my life when I was doing rough. He came in, he helped me out and look where we are today."
On his relationship with Ware
"He's a natural leader. When you're DeMarcus Ware, you automatically think, 'Great guy.' You see him on—all of the commercials that he has, he's great. The only thing that he needs is a Super Bowl. Him being my idol, I'm going to lay my heart on the line for him."
On if he's ever played in a game where the quarterback was hit so much
"I don't know, my mind is so wrapped around this game right here just living in the moment. I can't really think back to past games, but we did a great job today."
On the defense making Patriots QB Tom Brady hold onto the football
"I just start with [CB] Aqib [Talib] and [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.] to lock up all of those good guys that they have over there and our inside linebackers just giving us a second with [Patriots TE Rob] Gronk [Gronkowski]. We were able to get there."
On if he has any Super Bowl predictions
"No, I'm good."
On if the defense expected to contain the New England offense
"I'd like to think that everybody was prepared and ready to go. We came into this game knowing what we had to do. We knew if we could get that done that the game was going to be over with. I don't know, we came into this game with a great attitude and great energy. It just fed over into the game."
On the chance to play in the Super Bowl after missing the run two years ago
"It's great. Like I said, God is just so good. He'll give you a second chance at life. I remember after the Super Bowl loss, I was sitting in the locker room and you have guys crying. It's just a depressing moment. You try to lift everybody up. [OLB] Lerentee McCray], he didn't play either. He came to me and he said, 'We're going to get back here.' He said, 'We're going to get back here. We're going to go out and we're going to get back here.' When he said that, I just knew it. I wanted to do it for [QB] Peyton [Manning]. I wanted to get him back there. All of the guys that haven't been there, I wanted to do it. That's just where I put my mind at. We've grinded. [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.], [DE Derek] Wolfe and I, we all wanted to get back. That's a true blessing. God is good."
On his interception
"I'll tell you, I can do it all. I'm just playing. It was just a call that we had. We wanted to put a little bit of extra sauce on Gronk. He's a great player. All of the plays that he made toward the end of the game, it was great. Gronkowski, he's a great player. I was only trying to put a little extra sauce on him, like I said. I got off, I rolled to him and I saw Brady looking at me so I just expanded and he threw it to me."
On if he felt the Broncos were disrespected
"I don't know. I really hadn't been watching all of the media. I'm not on social media. I came into the game pretty even-minded. I didn't really pay attention to all that stuff. I saw the Gronk tweet and all of that stuff. It really didn't phase. We go out there and the scoreboard talks for itself."
On playing in Super Bowl 50
"We're here. We're back. It's not just me. It's Wolfe and Chris. When I look at those guys and you can just tell it's more than just today. It's more than just the Super Bowl. When you have guys like that and you have teammates like that, it's easy to lay your neck out on the line for those guys. That's I tend to do."
On digging deep in the final minutes
"You have to dig deep the whole game. You're talking about the Patriots. We had to dig deep in a lot of situations in the game. I don't think we budged a second at the end of the game. We knew the situation that we were in and just wanted to make it happen."
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER DeMARCUS WARE
On the pass rush today
"We really talked about it all week that it's going to be one of those quick-passing games. Somebody asked me a question, they said, 'If he gets the ball off in 1.9 seconds, what are you guys going to do if you can't get any rush?' I said, 'Well, we've got to be a little bit faster and get there at 1.8.' There was in the meeting last week—the game was going to be won in the trenches, and we said as the defensive line, we have to be able to get pressure on him in all situations. It might not be a sack, but we have to let him know that our presence is there. He felt that tonight."
On what he shared in the team meeting Saturday night
"We have a motto on this team that iron sharpens iron and another man sharpens another. I just told the guys that everybody bought into that mentality of when [T Ryan] Clady got hurt, [T] Ty [Sambrailo] came in. When Ty got hurt, [T] Ryan Harris went in. When [QB] Peyton [Manning] got hurt, [QB] Brock [Osweiler] went in. When I got hurt, [OLB Shaquil] Shaq [Barrett] went in. That was the grit of the whole season. I said, 'We melted down that metal.' I said, 'The only way you're going to make metal hard, is if you get it done.' I said, 'We beat it to this thing,' and I opened up and I pulled out the first Super Bowl trophy that the Broncos won. I sat it on the table, and I just got really quiet. I saw in all the guys' eyes how they felt, what they felt, because I felt the same way. From that point, I just knew how important it was to those guys and just closing it off. I said, 'The Patriots are coming into our house trying to take what we built.' It was a big, emotional tonight, and the guys carried it over into the game."
On the team's excitement to take the next step
"Guys are really, really excited about this game because of so much we went through this season. We quieted a lot of the critics that we had, but you can also see in the guys' eyes there is one more step. There is another level to how we can play, and we have to play that same way going into the next game."
On Manning missing six games to now going to the Super Bowl
"That's why I said sometimes age and playing football can be sort of misconstrued a little bit. They always look at his age, how he's played and maybe injuries, but sometimes when something is important to you, you'll do whatever you can to make it right or to get it done. He got hurt, and they sort of ruled him out. I saw him in the training room the whole time getting ready, and I can see it in his eyes like, 'You know what, I can't wait to get back on the field.' When he got that opportunity to get back on the field and all the crowd—the 12th man in the Broncos stadium—I can see it in his eyes like 'he's back.' From that point on, I knew he was ready."
On what it means to reach the Super Bowl at this point in his career
"I really just pride myself on consistency. It's been 11 years of consistent time, and now just as one time you sort of push through that threshold and are able to make it to the Super Bowl, but you can't be happy with that. You can see the guys that we aren't happy with that. We're going to celebrate tonight, but I told them, 'We only have a 24 hour rule to where now we have to get ready for the Super Bowl.' Whatever the schedule is, but we have three days to really prepare at home, and we have to make sure we utilize that time."
On if this is as healthy he's been at the end of the season in a long time
"I'm beat up and I don't feel great, but I still went out there and played. I'm just kidding. I feel good right now. There are always bumps and bruises that come with football. Sometimes when you get that adrenaline going, you're able to push through that. You see how important it is to the guys around you and to yourself. Sometimes those injuries sort of get put to the side and they're little small things. You're never going to be 100 percent in football. You've just got to get out there, show them what you can do and just play."
On if he thought it would take this much blood, sweat and tears to reach the Super Bowl when he was named a captain
"That's funny what you say—blood, sweat and tears. We talk about that every single time we get in that workout room and we workout, and especially on the field, too. The same thing this whole season. When I first came here, I didn't think about being a captain. I said, 'Where do I fit on this team?' I said, 'If I work hard and do what I need to do, they'll find somewhere to put me.' You can't go somewhere and expect anything. You have to earn it. I worked my butt off, worked hard and got named captain last year and this year, so that's a big thing when it's coming from the guys that are awesome players. We are where we are right now. I'm leading the team, Peyton is leading the team and we're playing well."
On what he said to cause Head Coach Gary Kubiak to call a timeout on the Patriot's two-point conversion
"They actually did. I was so tired with like whatever, 12 seconds left in the game. I just ran off the field, and they looked at me like, 'DeMarcus, can you go one more play?' I looked at them like, 'I can't. I can't go.' They said, 'What if we call timeout?' I said, 'No, don't worry about it,' and I just ran out there on the field. I'm talking about like I saw [OLB] Shane [Ray], Shane looks at me and he's like, 'Man, gosh.' So we changed and I went out there on the field. All of a sudden they called a timeout. I said, 'They've got my back,' and I'm going to make sure that I make this play or I'm able to get some pressure on those plays to close the game out. I put it on myself."
TIGHT END OWEN DANIELS
On playing in the AFC Championship
"I've never played in this game before. That's really the only reason I'm still playing right now is to have the opportunity to win a Super Bowl. That's a big reason I came here. I'm very ecstatic, as you can tell."
On the ups and downs of this season
"It's been amazing and this team is unbelievable. So much resilience. Guys we just grind every week and don't care what kind of situation we're in. We're down at times, it doesn't look good at times and just keep fighting. We're going to start grinding again tomorrow so we'll enjoy this one. I love this team, love all of the guys and I'm just so happy for everybody."
On coming through in the red zone
"When you're playing the Patriots, getting in the red zone is one thing but the only way you're going to beat them is if you're able to convert instead of getting field goals. I think the coaches had a great game plan down there and we played on the coverage they were playing. I was going to get some opportunities to make some plays. They played man coverage on me, [QB] Peyton [Manning] gave me a couple of chances and it worked out."
On his first touchdown
"It felt good. It was a great drive we put together and we were able to finish that off down there. It was tough looking back into the sun this time of year so I kind of double caught it, but I'm thankful it found my hands and Peyton made a real easy throw for me."