HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
Update on Injuries
"[CB] Chris Harris [Jr.], starting cornerback for us, tore his ACL and will be out the remainder of the season."
On Harris Jr.'s injury
"There's no doubt that he's probably one of our better performers on defense throughout this season. It'll be the same—we've lost some pretty good performers throughout the season. This team has been resilient. We'll take a 'next-man up' approach and we'll keep you posted on that as we go forward."
On [CB Quentin] Jammer moving outside after Harris' injury
"Just how we had them evaluated this week and how we decided to utilize them in the game against the Chargers. It varies week to week, but that was what we elected to do against San Diego."
On familiarity with the Patriots
"They're going to look at us, we're going to look at them, but my experience is that these games—even if it is the same opponent, take on a completely different personality. I don't think this will be any different."
On TE Julius Thomas
"I think he's grown week to week throughout the whole season. He's done a tremendous job. He wasn't exactly a household name to start this season. Everybody in this building knew of his abilities, it was just a matter of getting healthy. The young man has worked extremely hard one to get ready physically and to get into our offense and earn the trust of his teammates, he's worked very hard mentally in the classroom to get ready. When you put all those things together, usually you have pretty good on-field performances and he has."
On plans to replace Harris Jr.
"We're going to know long before you guys will know. But, we have been with these guys for some time. We've had the same corps of guys. So, we've been through the whole cast, really throughout the whole season. It is really how they perform in practice and what we see on the practice field in preparation for New England. On throwing on third downs instead of running late in the game against San Diego
"Like anything, whether it is teammates amongst themselves in either phase of the game, coaches and coaching staffs—this is kind of the ultimate of team games and you get used to how your team handles certain situations. I think over time, I know for me, I have gotten a better understanding of what this team is about. So, hopefully I grow as well."
On the Giants organization
"First and foremost, I have tremendous respect for that organization, the ownership—even though there have been some changes, it stayed pretty steady. I think the Mara and Tisch family do a fabulous job. There is good steadiness in that organization. I think Tom [Coughlin] has done a tremendous job there, of course winning two Super Bowls. I don't really know how flowery I can get, but I have great, great respect for that organization."
On what he learned from his time with the Giants
"You kind of are what you're around. Whether it is coaches, ownership, general managers—I went through George Young, Ernie Accorsi—I'm talking about good football men. Wellington Mara, Robert Tisch—really experienced owners. You take a lot of wisdom from really, really good people—Hall-of-Fame-caliber people."
On finishing games
"I think it is finishing anything. I think it helps to have been there before. They talk about golfers—it's important to have the lead going into Sunday so you know how to handle it. I don't know if I buy totally into that, but I think there is some merit to that. It's making plays in critical times in situational football. That's really the difference and the team that does that usually wins those close games and in playoff games, they are typically one-score games."
On WR Eric Decker as a punt returner
"That was an outstanding return. He made a lot of good cuts and movement to get into that position. After that, maybe not so much (laughing). It was still a huge play and a big change of field position that did help our team."
On whether he considers the third-and-17 completion to Julius Thomas the play of the game
"Like all close games, you can narrow it down to four or five. I'm not going to really go through all of them, but that would have been one of those four or five."
On preparing this week
"That's why we practice. We'll get a chance to form up—they were in today, watched the game from yesterday and they got started on New England. They have tomorrow off, albeit, a lot of them do come in and start viewing the upcoming opponent. We'll form back up Wednesday and see where everybody is at that point."
On plans to replace Chris Harris Jr.
"Like I said, it's a long list, a long cast. If I knew right now, I wouldn't say anyways."
On CB Champ Bailey being on a
"It's not really quite that scientific. We're not that smart. We'll just, like I said, form back up Wednesday and see what everybody's health, physically is and we'll go practice."
On what this season has been like for him
"It's been a lot of hard work. I think that team in there, the players and staff have been through a lot. We've lost some key people like a lot of teams in the league. There was a lot of teams in the league last year that got close and thought they would be back and there is a couple of them that aren't back. It's not easy by any stretch but it did help motivate this group. It's been a lot, a lot of hard work and overcoming a lot of adversity and changes. I went away for a month. So they've overcome a lot and it's a unique group and I'm proud of them for it."
On Harris' injury possibly prompting S Rahim Moore's return
"I'm not going to get into speculation right now. We're working through the procedure to make personnel adjustments and we'll keep you posted."
On the similarities between the Broncos and the Patriots
"Again, we talked earlier about the Giants, I think Mr. Kraft, they've got great continuity in that organization. They've been very, very successful. We've got tremendous respect for their organization from the top down and I think that speaks for itself."
On his mindset when he was away for his heart procedure
"I really never considered not being back. I know there was a lot of speculation but I had a great medical team that painted the picture for me just like our medical team does here with injured players. I pretty much had a game plan and it went as planned. I was back here on a Monday four weeks post-op and that was the plan. I had a lot of good support people around including my wife Robin. So it's worked out pretty well."
On RB LeGarrette Blount making the Patriots more challenging
"I think they're a challenging team to prepare for anytime. Last year, this year, they're well-coached, I think they do a good job with personnel and he's obviously another different weapon but he's big and physical. He's got skins on the wall in this league as far as a running back."
On the importance of balance in the offense
"I think balance is important, keeping the ability to be able to do both keeps a defense guess a little bit better. It's not easy to do but it's something you stress and it's something that I believe is important. Especially in playoff season."
On preaching that postseason opportunities like this are rare
"I think like any opportunity—when it presents itself, you have to take advantage of it. This is no different. You assume you might get back, whether you talk to a player or a coach, but it doesn't always happen. You can look at examples this year from teams that we were in the tournament a year ago. So again, like all opportunities, whether it's a regular-season game, a playoff situation, maybe even a Super Bowl opportunity. You don't get very many of them. It's very hard to get there, it's very competitive. You're competing against the best in the world. So, of course you try to invest and take advantage to the best of your ability."
On why tight ends are now asked to be pass catchers more than blockers
"Well, off the top of my head, I don't know that I could probably do great justice to that question. It definitely has changed. I kind of—as far as the basketball guys—[Chargers TE] Antonio [Gates], when Marty Schottenheimer was in San Diego, that one comes to mind. Even as far back with the Chargers, with [TE] Kellen Winslow —and that has been quite some time. There has been some classic tight ends. Even Mike Ditka in his day, he was a unique guy that was a pretty dominant matchup problem for defenses. I think they're hard to find. It's kind of a unique position because you have to block and be a receiver—and that is a unique, physical body to find, with that athleticism. It's like trying to find a center in the NBA. I mean, it's not easy to do."
On the play of the defensive line
"I think when you get into playoff football, you talk about the trenches—and that's the O-Line and the D-Line and the ability to run and the ability to stop the run I think is big. Obviously we preach run here, the best pass defense that we have in our playbook is a pass rush. That gets heightened when the group of teams gets narrowed."
SAFETY MIKE ADAMS
On the injury to CB Chris Harris Jr.
"Doesn't change much. Obviously, it hurts that he's gone and he's out for the season. I feel bad because he worked so hard during the season and preseason to get to this point, a step closer to where we want to be, and he goes down. If you look at our season, we had [CB] Tony Carter in there making plays, we had [CB] Kayvon [Webster] in there making plays, [CB Quentin Jammer] in there making plays. I don't see it changing too much. Obviously, it hurts, like I said, that he's down. But we've got to keep going because we still have goals."
On how the injury will affect CB Champ Bailey's role
"I'll leave that to the coaches. I don't know how that is going to affect him—whether he is going to move outside or inside. I don't know. I would love to see Champ back out there every play, if you're asking me that. Yes, I would love to see that. But that is yet to be determined."
On whether there was an immediate effect on the game when Harris Jr. went out
"Yeah, it was. And it was obvious. When Chris went down, things started to unravel a little bit on the back end. [CB Quentin Jammer] 'Jam'—I'm not worried about him. He gave up a big play, but he could bounce back. He's been in the league a long time. We've all had bad games before and we've all slipped up and done something to give up something before. He always bounces back. So I'm not worried about that. It's just little things, little technique things that he can fix. He hadn't been getting reps all week—and to step into that role is huge. 'Jam,' I'm not worried about at all."
On whether the secondary has been able to gel as much as they would have liked
"These last couple of games—can't you tell? We've been holding opponents down. We've been playing very well as a defense. It's something we want to continue. You look back at the Dallas game, when it was like an offensive game—'Bombs over Baghdad'—the game going back-and-forth. And then we finally started to buckle down. And I must say, we've bucked down at the right time—playoff time. And that is when you want to peak. We all knew we were going to the playoffs. We knew we were going to the playoffs. We were, what, 10-2? Whatever the record was. We knew we were going to the playoffs and we knew we had to peak at the right time and I think that is what we're doing now."
On whether he has any concerns about Webster's lack of experience
"Oh, no. Did you see him in the Dallas game stripping [Cowboys WR Dez] Bryant? He played. I'm confident if [CB] Tony Carter goes out there, if Kayvon Webster goes out there, 'Jam' goes out there—any one of those three guys step into this role, this new role, which I don't know yet who it is, I'm confident. I'm good. And I don't think we're going to play two-man over them to help them out more. I don't think we're going to do things to adjust so we won't get exposed there. I think we've got some good players. And I've said this before, like in training camp—it was so hard in training camp because we had so many guys competing. And coaches made it hard. And we made it hard for the coaches to make decisions about who to cut and who to keep. I guess they made some bright decisions because the guys that go down, then you've got people stepping into these roles and we don't miss a beat."
On S Rahim Moore being eligible to return this week
"He's always a help. The more help we can have, the better. We've got guys going down. If he can come back and he can play—and step into a role—I'm all for it. Obviously, that would be huge, as well."
On the good and bad he takes from the last time the Broncos faced the Patriots
"The bad is, 'Don't come out flat.' The good is we started fast, got the turnovers we wanted, we went into the half up 24-0. We finished out the half strong. But we didn't finish the game. That's the bad part. We didn't finish the game and we didn't come out with that same fire and that same intensity. I think the first or second drive, they came out and scored a touchdown. And we never went back to the sideline. We never settled down. We never said, 'OK, don't worry about it. It's Tom Brady. They're going to score. They're going to get theirs. They're going to make their plays. Let's go. Now, we've got to shut them up. We've got to shut them down a little bit.' And we didn't do that."
On closing teams out in the fourth quarter
"It's definitely a mentality. When you start fast, you've got to finish fast. You've got to finish the same way. And it's hard because we're all professional athletes and they're liable to make plays as well. So it's hard to have that mentality for four quarters. But it's doable. We can do it. And that is definitely what it is – a mentality that you've got to continue to have for four quarters to win the game."
On the Patriots' biggest receiving threat
"As I've been looking and seeing a little bit, it looked like [WR Julian] Edelman. He had a couple of big games. I think [WR Danny] Amendola is second. But [RB Shane Vereen] seemed like he's catching a lot of passes really coming out of the backfield—he's up there in catching a lot of passes as well. We'll have our hands full and this is going to be a battle. I'm prepared for it."
On comparing the way the Patriots use Edelman compared to how they used Broncos WR Wes Welker
"I can't compare the two because Wes is—he's something special. He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off balance. Edelman, he doesn't do that. He's a one-speed guy. He doesn't have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot. I guess that is the main difference between them. But I don't know if they use him the same as they used Wes because they're totally different players."
On whether the emergence of Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount has changed the challenge that the Broncos face
"No. Because we knew he was a good runner from the beginning. We're coming out and we're coming up to hit him. We've got to make sure we control the paths more because we knew he was a good runner then and he's still a good runner now. Obviously, he's emerged because he had a couple of big runs. But other than that, it doesn't change our mentality because we knew he was a good runner. They've got a couple of good backs—[RB Stevan] Ridley and the other guy. They had some fumbling problems but other than that, they're all good backs."
GUARD ZANE BEADLES
On whether Sunday's win vs. the Chargers was the best performance of the year as an offensive line
"I would say it ranks right up there at the top. I think it was a complete game for us—run game and pass game. We focus on getting better every single week and I think we definitely did that this week."
On his emotions when converting the last third down to seal the win
"It's a huge deal for us, especially—that's something that we focused on all year, going back to the playoff game last year. That was a situation that we didn't end up doing what we wanted to do in that situation. Being able to do that in this game and finish with the ball in our hands was a huge win for us."
On when he felt the offensive line started to gel together
"I think it's been a work in progress all season. I think like I said, every single week we have worked to get better and better than the week before. There have probably been some games in there that we didn't take as big of a step forward as we may have wanted to from week to week. But, it has just been an ongoing process throughout the whole season."
On playing well in certain games versus others
"It really just depends game to game. There are so many different factors to a game and every game is different from our standpoint, from the opponent's standpoint. For whatever reason, sometimes you don't play as well as the week before. There is no telling what the exact reason is. But, it happens."
On G Louis Vasquez
"I think he's done a great job for us. Going into the season not knowing, kind of with the injury situation what was going to happen, and having Louis come in and step into that position and be as good as he has this year—he has had a phenomenal season and I think he's a huge reason why we've been able to be successful up front."
On the final drive of the game
"No, he didn't say anything extra. We know the situation we're in. We kind of put ourselves in a hole in that situation, which wasn't how we wanted to start that drive off. But, we knew that was a big down and we needed that conversion and once we got that conversion, we knew that we were going to finish with the ball there."
On whether he knew when QB Peyton Manning got the pass off on the third-and-17 completion
"I knew that we got the throw off when we completed the pass and got the first down, I'll tell you that much. It's hard to know in those situations when the ball is thrown, but we got the first down and that's all that matters."
On similarities between the end of last year's Divisional Playoff Game vs. Baltimore and this year's vs. San Diego
"Yeah, it was a very similar situation that we were in last year. That's something that up front we've talked about all year long that if we're in that situation again, we're not going to let what happened last year—we're going to finish with the ball in our hands. I definitely think that played a role in it this year, this time around that we had that mindset that we weren't going to let that happen again."
On if the last drive yesterday was the most important drive of the year
"There are way too many drives to say that. In any one ball game, there are two or three plays that make a difference in the ball game. It took a lot of work to get up to this point. So, I can't say that was the most important drive, but it definitely was a big one for us."
On when Head Coach John Fox returned from his heart procedure and what he brought to the team
"Just his energy and his overall persona. He is a great guy to have around in the locker room. The day he got back—even before that, we talked to him on the phone and kind of Skyped with him as a team. Just his energy and the way he was talking, you could tell that he was the same old guy and I think he's come back stronger and better than he was before."
On the team's yardage totals
"It's been great. It has been a focus of ours all year. We knew we may not get the number of carries that we have in the past or that other teams get. Looking at it from a total-yards standpoint I don't think is the way to look at it, but our focus was to run the ball efficiently and try to get four yards a clip and be efficient in the run game. That's something that we've focused on all year and we've gotten better and better as this season has gone on here the last part of the season, I think we've done a good job of that."
On if RB Knowshon Moreno has got the offensive line anything for rushing over 1,000 yards
"No he has not. I'm still waiting to see if that is going to occur so if you want to get in his ear a little bit I'd be happy with that (laughing)."
On how much the offensive line enjoys the anonymity factor
"I think that's just kind of any O-Lineman. I think we're all cut out of the same mold. We're not in it for the glory. If you're an offensive lineman and you're in it for the glory and the press and all that kind of stuff you're in the wrong position and you're not going to be happy. Really we enjoy each other. We all work well together. We hang out together outside of football. It's enjoyable to come in and be with those guys day in and day out and I think that definitely helps us on the field. That's really the reason why we play and why we go out there every week."
On having only 18 yards rushing last game vs. San Diego and if that was a reminder to the linemen last week in preparation
"We never really talked about the stats from the previous game. Again, we just talked about improving over the previous few weeks and we knew we needed to be physical. We knew we needed to protect the passer with the weather the way it was and the wind whipping around out there we knew that we were going to have to run the ball and be balanced was the big thing. So that was the focus—it was overall. It wasn't specifically on any stats from previous games."
WIDE RECEIVER ERIC DECKER
On his punt returns
"If I had stayed up and not tripped myself maybe I would feel better about myself. I thought overall with the winds and the conditions I was happy with the performance as far as catching the ball and advancing it."
On if people were more congratulatory about the win or joking about the trip
"I think more of a hard time, tripping myself back to back years, San Diego. That's something to be proud of. You forget the 40 yards before that always remember the last part (laughing)."
On if that happened in college or high school
"Honestly that has not happened to me in my previous experiences but I have done it two years now against San Diego. I have to get over that tripping coach."
On Head Coach John Fox's energy since his return from a heart procedure
"I said when he came back that he was the same guy when we left before the bye week. We didn't know what to expect. Open-heart surgery is a big deal. It's a scary situation but the old Coach Fox came back with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy. I think he just had a different perspective on how much he appreciated being able to coach and being here with us. When you're gone for an extended period of time you forget how great these moments are and that was something he shared with us when he got back."
On how much of a lesson the loss to New England was
"I think that's something New England does very, very well—they play 60 minute football and they play sound, fundamental football. Obviously we did a good job of taking a lead early, the defense played outstanding and we didn't finish. That was a hard lesson learned throughout the year. I thought we've had a couple of those this year. We faced a lot of adversity and when you look at this week, you have to capitalize and make sure you minimize all mistakes throughout the game. We had a couple yesterday—a couple myself. I think those things you have to take a hard look at and make sure you don't let that happen against a good team like New England."
On his expectations when losing Fox for a few weeks
"I think we had a good mold and a good group here in the locker room and the coaching staff. [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Jack] Del Rio stepped in and we didn't even miss a beat. I think guys obviously had Coach Fox in their prayers and on their mind but we knew that we had a job to take care of and I thought he pushed us in the right direction. And the leadership in the locker room made sure we did those things correctly and didn't let the situation with Coach Fox weigh on what our goals were. When he came back, same thing. We were so happy to have him because he does bring a lot of energy, that enthusiasm to the practice field, to games. Overall, that was again, a bump in the road we had to get over and it shows a lot about the character of the guys on this team."
On the receivers complementing each other
"I think the stats kind of speak for themselves but I think just across the board there are so many weapons between whether its receivers, running backs, tight ends. Everyone has a different skill set and they do it well. When defenses try to take away a couple guys, the other guys step up and that what's so great about a team—you can't always rely on one person. You have to have all 11 guys doing their job and making sure that—for us it's just being in the right position because 18 is going to get us the ball."
On the feeling in the huddle on the last drive
"That was huge. I think we started out obviously with the penalty and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We had confidence in what we could do and we knew the momentum was in San Diego's favor and we had to do something about that. When we got to the 3rd-and-17 situation [TE] Julius [Thomas] made a huge play and he made another huge play on the third down after that. We wanted to end the game with the ball in our hands. For [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Adam] Gase to call some passing plays and be more aggressive, that's kind of our approach to this season."
On describing the play
"We watched the tape and [QB Peyton Manning] stepped up in the pocket—he might have had a little pressure—but they must have screwed a coverage because both safeties went to the middle and no one really guarded [TE] Julius [Thomas] or the flat and I thought Julius—yeah very good feet. Peyton made an awesome throw to give him a chance to catch it and get his feet down. That's a play. 3rd-and-17, you don't see executed very successful very often so to get that play was huge for us."
On RB Knowshon Moreno
"Knowshon, I've always been impressed with him. He's had, again, a rocky start but just his determination, his work ethic, the guy deserves the season he's having. He's a guy that I've always thought was a stud and when he had to sit out there for eight games, was inactive for a while, he stepped in and had a huge second half of the season. Again, had a huge season this year. That just shows that he's resilient; that we all face adversity in our lives but it's not the adversity itself, it's how you bounce back from it and he's done a good job with that."
On S Mike Adams
"Mike, I have a lot of respect for too. He's a 10-year vet and he might not be a guy that everyone looks at as a star player but he's a guy that's very consistent. He's going to do his job and he makes big plays when needed. I think the biggest thing on that side is the communication. He's very intelligent, he puts guys in the place and people can feed off of that. He's done a fantastic job for us over the last two years."
On noticing Adams' appreciation for being in the playoffs
"I think there are a handful of guys that haven't been as successful as we've been the last two years and you do appreciate the good times. For him, just surrounding himself with winners, with guys that have had success—especially when you get a Peyton Manning who's done it for so long—that energy is just to another and I think the expectations come to another level and you understand what it takes to be a winner. He's got the mold to do it and I think once we surrounded guys like him with players that know how to win, he's going to jump right on board."
On the defense and their lineup changes
"They've been through a lot. Whether it's [LB] Von [Miller], [DT Kevin Vickerson] 'Vick', [CB] Chris Harris [Jr.], [CB] Champ [Bailey] at the beginning of the season. We've talked about sticking together and having depth and I thought the guys that needed to step up, stepped up. There were times, both offense and defense, when we haven't played our best football but its complementary football. When the offense is playing great we pick it up for the defense. When the defense is playing great, they pick it up for us. The challenge for them this week is to make sure that they all play sound football and someone has to step up and play for Chris Harris. He's played his tail off all season. He's a guy that we're going to miss but we have to move on and we have to find someone to fill that hole."
On the difference between Moreno now and when he was inactive last year
"I would just say he's a confident player, he's got that quiet confidence. He's always had that positive attitude. I think now you just see really the determination in his eyes. You go back, I don't know what game it was, you saw the tears come out of his eyes pregame. That's just the guy he is. He understands how special playing on Sundays is and he appreciates that. I think that was maybe a lesson he learned and every day since he's been working his tail off and he's been a big part of why we've had success."
On how much he wants to beat the Patriots
"I don't know if I've ever beaten them since I've been in Denver so this is a huge game. We get to go to the Super Bowl if we win; I think that has enough on itself but to play a team that's been there the last three years, that does it consistently. This is going to be a challenge for us and we want to know where we're at as a football team. When you play such a good consistent team you find out a lot about yourself and I think that's what we're looking forward to Sunday."
On the team being relatively healthy on offense
"Knock on wood, yeah. That's a big part of the game, if you can be healthy going into the playoffs, if you can have everyone on board—more bodies makes it a lot easier. I think that's a part of why we've been successful is because of the health and [T] Chris Clark has done an amazing job stepping in for [T] Ryan Clady and across the board everyone has really stuck together and made sure we executed at a high level every time we're on the field. It's been fun to be a part of."
DEFENSIVE TACKLE TERRANCE KNIGHTON
On CB Chris Harris Jr.'s injury
"It's terrible news. You hate to see a guy having a great year, going into a contract year or something like that—I wish him the best. I wish him a speedy recovery but we just have to focus on the task at hand right now and that's New England. Whoever will fill his shoes, whoever we put in there has to step up."
On the lesson learned from playing the Patriots earlier this season
"We learned a lot. In the first half we had it going and could see how we can play on defense and we just have to finish. A team like that, that has been behind before and has plenty of comebacks and has had success plying from behind. We just have to learn to put teams away and finish. That's something that we can improve on from the game yesterday. We watched that today to see how we can improve and try to get better each week."
On CB Champ Bailey
"I think he's just getting his groove back. As long as he's played, when you sit out a few games, a few weeks, you're going to be a little rusty. I think he's finally getting back to his mode that we need him to play. I'm just excited to have him back and to see him back there."
On what Bailey means to the defense
"You're more comfortable when you have a Champ Bailey behind you. It makes things a lot easier for the D-Line—rushing the quarterback and things like that. It also makes it hard for the quarterback. They're not going to throw to his side most of the time and he basically shuts down half the field so it helps out everybody."
On Patriots RB LeGarrett Blount presenting a new challenge
"That's what it's about in the playoffs—just running the ball and playing solid defense. Whichever team can stop the run and whichever team can run the ball will win the game. That's why we were successful yesterday. We watched New England today. We just have to be in our gaps and play physical and not allow them to play up tempo and not be ready—we have to get up to the line and go and just do our job and tackle."
On the defense adjusting to lineup changes throughout the season
"I don't think this whole [year] we have had a consistent starting lineup. That's just the onus of the guys in the room. We embrace every role we have on the team and whoever is in there we expect to make plays. It really doesn't matter, whoever is in there we expect to make plays. With the goal that we have in mind to win the Super Bowl, we can't have any setbacks."
On building chemistry
"I think with mixing and matching all year and [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] putting in different lineups during camp and preseason, it kind of helped us. We don't lose any chemistry when guys are replaced because guys are always playing. We've had so many combinations in there that it is almost to the point that you are comfortable with everybody."
On the chemistry with the new guys in training camp
"We were just trying to gel as a group. You have to gel in the locker room first before you can gel on the field. We have the right type of personalities in that room, no 'me' guys. Everybody wants to win so I think the transition was easier for us to come with everybody had the same goal in mind."
On closing the door on teams
"We just have to apply the pressure that we had—the energy—with San Diego yesterday. The first three quarters, they couldn't do anything on us. I don't know really what happened in the fourth quarter but we just have to do a better job just keeping the pedal down and not depending on the offense to take us home and shut teams out."
On DE Jeremy Mincey
"I'm really happy for him. We've been through a lot together in the past and he's a winner. He came from a winning college program and when we were in Jacksonville he was always talking about winning. I'm just happy to play with him and to see him here with the opportunity to win a Super Bowl."
On Del Rio calling his season a bounce-back season
"I just think you try not to get used to losing. In Jacksonville, it seemed that way with a few guys but I don't really consider it a bounce back year, I just think it was finally a chance for me to put my name on the good side of things and show that I'm a good player in this league."
On what the defense has to do different from the last New England matchup
"First, we have to start fast like we did last time we went up there but like I said before we just have to finish. A guy like [Patriots QB] Tom Brady, you can't give him an opportunity with a minute left to win the game. He's been in that situation plenty of times. We want to eliminate him having a chance to beat us at the end of the game and put him out early."
On the difference TE Rob Gronkowski made for New England
"Very different. I think he's probably the best tight end in the NFL and that's [Brady's] main target. That's why they're running the ball and they're doing a good job of it. They have capable receivers and their quarterback is elite. They'll have some kind of wrinkle, they'll have something. Whoever is in there, they're expecting them to make plays so it really doesn't matter who is out there."
On his brothers being Patriots fans
"It's kind of like a split household right now because I grew up a Patriots fan but they're mostly concerned with my success right now. After the game, we'll handle that."
LINEBACKER PARIS LENON
On CB Chris Harris Jr.'s injury
"It is another disappointment for us—somebody else that we've been battling with that has been a huge part of this team and this defense that is down. It's an opportunity for somebody to step up and play big."
On playing more in the Broncos' base defense
"This past game, they dictated kind of what personnel we were going to be in based on the things they like to do offensively, things that we saw them do against Cincinnati. So, moving forward, we'll take a look at New England and whatever personnel they are in and based on what they are trying to get done offensively is what we'll be in."
On when he got comfortable in the Broncos' defense
"I felt pretty good when we played Indianapolis in that game and more recently once I got back in the swing of things, I felt comfortable. A lot of it is timing. Beyond just the particular scheme and your responsibility, playing defense is a lot of timing, actually. Just getting the timing back and getting a feel. I feel good."
On whether there is a difference between QBs Philip Rivers and Tom Brady
"I think they are both top quarterbacks in this league. The things that Tom Brady has accomplished—it speaks for itself. He is right up there in that conversation when you talk about the best. We have one of those on our team as well. So, it is a big challenge. It is a big challenge going up against a guy that is that good of a player. He can hurt you. We have a lot of studying and a lot of work to do this week."
On the defense holding a meeting after the Week 15 loss to San Diego
"Yeah, I think that was a bit of a turning point. I think guys were playing well in spurts. It just hadn't been a complete game. After that situation, after that loss to San Diego, we go to Houston and played more complete in that game. Then we went to Oakland and played more complete in that game, and then obviously last night."
On the team's depth
"Everybody on this team is a professional athlete. Just because you aren't necessarily the starter doesn't mean that you feel any less about your abilities or you prepare any differently. Guys that were backing up, they still prepared like they were going to start games basically. You have to. Because this is a violent sport. And at any moment, that guy that is the starter can go down and then it is truly the next man up. So, you can't just sit back and assume that 'He's going to be out there the whole game, I can just hang out. No, no. You have to prepare like you're going to be out there."
On the way the defense was built by the personnel department
"I think it's been put together with guys that can play ball—that can play ball collectively and feed off of each other. That is exactly what you want to be. You want to be a unit defensively. You don't want to have a couple guys make plays. You want to have the entire unit playing well."
On veterans on defense talking to younger players about the playoff mentality
"Nothing like really sat down and had that. I think it's understood. You don't really need to talk about it. You know where you are and how important it is. I don't feel like we have to have that conversation."
On this week being a challenge
"Absolutely. But, it's like I said before. It's a big challenge and you have to do a great job this week preparing and we have to go out there with a lot of intensity and try to play well."
On New England's offense
"It all depends on how they approach it. I saw some of the Indianapolis game on television and they ran the ball a lot. If that is there approach, that is something we have to prepare for. You have to prepare for everything. Whether they run the ball a lot or whether they decide to throw it, you just have to be prepared for anything."
On playing for teams that had success and teams that didn't during his career
"It's exciting, but I'm not going to let my excitement and my enthusiasm about the moment get in the way of me focusing on what I have to do. Not looking past anything. I'm looking forward to this game and that's it."
RUNNING BACK KNOWSHON MORENO
On whether he is looking forward to a similar performance running the ball like the last time the Broncos played the Patriots
"Yeah, if that's what they're giving us. Whatever they're giving us, whatever is working the best, that's what we're going to do."
On why the Broncos were so successful running the ball against the Patriots
"I think things were just clicking. We were able to move the ball. But that was last game. We don't know what is going to happen now in this new game."
On what the addition of G Louis Vasquez has meant
"It was a great thing. They worked so hard throughout the offseason just to put us in the position we are in now. And it's a lot of new guys in the team that are playing a big role on our team. So, to see those big guys up front, it definitely helps out."
On whether he noticed the way that all the teams remaining were able to run the ball this weekend
"I'll tell you, I didn't even watch any of the games."
On why running the football is such a successful playoff formula
"I don't know. I think it's the same thing that we're going to try to do—we're going to try to stay as balanced as we can. Pass the ball when they're giving it to us and try to run. Those things help you out and those things help you to win, but you've still got to go out there and make plays."
On what he has noticed about Head Coach John Fox's energy since his return
"It's the same thing, the same old 'Foxy.' You can hear him down the hallway. It was great to get him back. He was still here in spirit when he was gone and when he got back, it was no different."
On how the locker room handled Fox's absence during the season
"I think [Defensive Coordinator Jack] Del Rio and everyone did a great job. We didn't lose any beat. Everyone was still doing the same thing and it was no different. It was like he was still here. So that was definitely a plus for our team."
On the development of RB Montee Ball
"He's been doing a great job for us. I remember when I was a rookie, coming in, how tough it is. It's a long season; you're learning so many new things. And he's done a great job, especially in the offseason just learning the playbook, learning all the different terminology and then coming out and making plays. You're always going to have those mistakes you make as a rookie. I'm still making mistakes, also. But he's done a great job just stepping up to the plate."
On whether he has a big-brother relationship with Ball
"I guess so. I think that's for all of the guys in the room—I'm the older guy in the room now. It's kind of weird. But I guess they do kind of look up to me a bit. And we're all working with each other. We're all working every day to make each other better and make this team better."
On whether the team thinks about winning a Super Bowl for QB Peyton Manning
"Yeah. Well, me personally, definitely for Peyton, and for a lot of guys in the locker room. You've got [CB] Champ [Bailey], you've got all those older guys that have been doing it for so long. It does give you that little extra boost that you want to do it for the older guys in the locker room, for sure."
On his mindset on finishing on his last two carries that sealed the game against the Chargers
"Yeah, basically that is what it was—trying to finish the drill. Knowing that we did have to run some time off the clock and get those first downs, and I think everyone just dug deep, went out there and did what we had to do to come out with a big victory."
On what he was thinking before those plays
"'I've got to get it. We've got to get that first down.' And that is basically what my mindset was. Everyone's mindset is just, 'Let's get the time off the clock and keep it moving.'"
On Manning's demeanor on the Broncos' final drive
"No different. Peyton is Peyton. He's so poised all the time and just getting us in the right position, right formation, whatever—and going out there and making the play. The guys did a great job catching the ball, also. [TE] Julius [Thomas] made some big catches down at the end of the game to put up first downs so we could keep going and, like I said before, take some time off the clock."
On whether he thought the Chargers were a bit slower off the line after being drawn offside so frequently early in the game
"We've got to use our cadence to our advantage—try to keep the defense off balance a little bit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We were fortunate enough that it did go our way last night and we did get them to jump offside a couple of times so we could get like first-and-short, first-and-manageable. So it definitely helped us out."
On what Manning has taught him over the last two seasons
"A lot of things. How to be a pro. The guy is a pro, on and off the field. His work ethic. And I think he kind of rubs off on everyone on this team—just the way he works. And like I was saying earlier, you want to win and you want to do what you have to do for those guys."
On finishing out games
"We do what we have to do. I think that is what it comes down to. You want to play 60 minutes. You know it's always going to be a 60-minute fight. It was last night. It was never over and we were able to make some big plays. Therefore, we've got to finish. We've just got to play all 60 minutes. You never know what is going to happen, especially in these playoffs."