BRONCOS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 24, 2023
"Obviously a disappointing finish, a really frustrating game. We had a lot of opportunities, I felt, especially in the first half. Offensively we struggled. Tip our hats to New England. We fought back in it. I said to the team [that] there were six or seven different situations in that game that any one of those play out a little differently—but unfortunately, they didn't. Our margin for error right now is not what it needs to be, and we end up on the losing end of the game."
On the opening drive fourth-down call
"I felt confident where we were relative to field position. I felt confident in a couple plays. Normally I would say, especially early, that I would kick the field goal. But I felt pretty good if we didn't get it, where we had them backed up. It was really more about me feeling like we had two or three good opportunities relative to the plays we were wanting to run. It was really that."
On what changed offensively in the fourth quarter
"The advantage we had towards the end was with the timeouts. We got zero blitzed a few times. They got us in third down. Clearly we had to punt it, and we still had the ability to stop the clock. We felt like we would get the stop. We were not able to. All of a sudden the script is flipped and it is one of those seven or eight things that I was discussing. It was a disappointing finish, but credit them. They made the plays they needed to and we were not able to."
On mindset changing after negative yardage on the final drive
"We are not throwing caution into the wind. We kind of had some momentum throwing the ball. We were giving 'Russ' (QB Russell Wilson) time protection wise. We were going to be smart, but we were not going to be careless with it. Let us just say that."
On throwing to running backs and tight ends more
"That is a good question. I think they played a little bit more zone tonight than we expected in weeks past. They do a great job in a number of coverage looks. Some of that would be a result of what we were getting coverage-wise. I just felt the protection was OK. We were under duress, so sometimes you are looking for an outlet. Until I see the film it would be hard to say."
On WR Marvin Mims Jr.'s kick return
"I don't know that there needs to be a conversation. Ultimately, we lost the turnover battle. That is how we ended up losing the game. I mentioned the beginning our margin for error. When we played well, we have been turnover free and taken it away. Defensively, the first play of the game. But we lost [the turnover battle] tonight, and I am sure that we will look back on it and certainly that played a part of it. Not any one, but just in general."
On the team's third-quarter struggles
"I thought we ran it pretty well in the first half. I was disappointed in how we ran it in the second half. We will look at the tape and kind of see where we feel like it went wrong. Overall, it was not good enough offensively. That needs to be better."
On the impact of WR Courtland Sutton leaving the game due to concussion protocol
"It is tough any time you lose a good player like that. He is in the [concussion] protocol. I think it happened early in the game and there were a couple of adjustments that we made and then you go play. Knock on wood, we have been healthy. That is the first time something like that happened. [WR] Brandon [Johnson] came in and his pitch count went up along with obviously [WR] Jerry [Jeudy], [Marvin] Mims Jr., and [WR] Lil'Jordan Humphrey. You adjust on the fly."
On getting RB Jaleel McLaughlin more involved
"That was part of the plan with this defense that we were seeing. It was more of a petty front and we felt part of the plan was trying to get him on the perimeter and get him in space. I think we did a pretty good job when we were able to do that. It was part of the gameplan to win."
On how QB Russell Wilson played
"I was proud of how he battled, especially when we were down two touchdowns. He is fighting and gets us back in it. It is difficult to do and yet he did it in pretty timely fashion."
On playoff picture
"We are not going to insert the 'Jim Mora playoffs' press conference. I told these guys [that] I am disappointed. I am disappointed for them. I am sure they are too. Tomorrow, you have to spend time and enjoy Christmas with your families. Then we have to come back to work Wednesday, and we have to focus on winning a game. We had a home game today and an opportunity to keep going. We did not take advantage of it, but we have our next opportunity next week and we kind of go from there."
QUARTERBACK RUSSELL WILSON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 24, 2023
On what changed in the fourth quarter for the team
"Yeah, I thought we—we got down 23-7, and we really got going in the fourth. We picked up the tempo a little bit and guys made some great plays. Obviously, [WR] Courtland [Sutton] not being in there—I think [WR] Brandon Johnson had to step up. 'LJ' (WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey), [WR Marvin] Mims [Jr.], [WR] Jerry [Jeudy]—those guys just kept playing and battling. The offensive line kept battling. We got back. Obviously, we had two 80-yard drives or whatever to make the score 23-23. We believed we would win the game and unfortunately, we didn't."
On the sense of belief in the locker room
"I think to start 1-5 and to fight the way we have all year, unfortunately it hasn't gone our way, especially tonight. We have to have a relentless belief that we're going to come back. We hurt ourselves tonight. We got behind the eight ball, but we responded exceptionally well. I kept telling the offense, 'Let's just not give up, not give in—not give up, not give in. We're going to find a way to come back and tie this game up.' We knew we had to go get a touchdown. We knew we had to get a two-point conversion. We knew we had to get another touchdown and another two-point conversion. That's what we did. We thought that we were going to be able to win that game. I thought everybody battled. This meant a lot to us all. It didn't go our way."
On what wasn't working in the first half that started to work in the second half
"The first thing is that we have to score on the first drive. I think that's the thing, we have to be able to get the ball in [the endzone]. Then, I think the second drive we scored. Then we got another short field, and we didn't score there I think it was. You have to make those plays. We have to find ways. We're battling. We have to get the ball in the endzone there. That will open up the game a little bit early. However, I think the thing that I love about this team, the thing I love about the guys in this locker room is the courage and the fight every day. The stadium was electric at the end. We have to make it that way all the time. How you do that is by making great plays and guys battling the way we did, and not giving up. Not losing heart. I think we could've lost heart a long time ago. We could've, and we didn't. I think that it shows our courage. It shows our testament to the guys we have—the coaches and everything else. We still have two games to go, and we have to play well in those games."
On what happened on the first three drives and only scoring one touchdown
"They did a good job of stopping the run. We tried to run it in there a couple of times, and they stopped it. That's what they did. I think they're coached extremely well. They played hard, and we did too. Unfortunately, they stopped us on those plays."
On having offensive tempo late in the game
"I think we have always been really good so far this season in tempo, two-minute situations and obviously halves in the games. I think everybody is on the same page. Everybody is working together. I think when the game is on the line, you have to come back and win. I believe that every time we're going to find a way. You can't think any other way. That's how I always believe. That's how I believe with the guys that we have. We showed that we can do that. Obviously, we got that done in terms of the two touchdowns and two-point conversions, that's not easy. We got it done. We need one more big play, and it didn't go our way."
On his future with the Broncos
"I'm just worried about next week and playing great football. I came here to win and win a championship for us and to find a way to do that. I obviously love being here with these guys, these teammates. I'm excited to keep playing ball and playing hard for us."
On if the team can still make the playoffs
"I haven't done the math. I'm feeling this loss right now. We thought we should have won this game. I think the best thing we can do is get up tomorrow and be with our families, and this and that, and then get back to work. We have two games to go, and those games mean a lot just for who we are and our fight, and our testament of who we are and how we're going to battle back."