HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
"[WR] Eric Decker's knee is just a sprain so he'll be day-to-day, so that was actually good news. That's kind of all the updates I have as far as injuries."
On yesterday's offensive performance
"As I've said many times when we made the adjustments or tweaks to our offense, football is football. They play football at a pretty high level in college and there have been some very successful, productive offenses in this type of offense. It's a little unique to the National Football League; however, having [the quarterback] as a run threat is not the first time it's ever happened. We competed [in Carolina] against [QB] Michael Vick for years there in Atlanta and it presents problems. We've had different approaches."
On knowing what he had in WR Demaryius Thomas
"With the lockout and whatnot it was little bit harder because there wasn't contact. There wasn't contact allowed with our medical people and players so we were a little bit in the dark as to how that rehab was going. Once we were able to have contact with the players he was way ahead of schedule. There was discussion about him being on PUP to start the season and as we got through training camp we actually accelerated that and kept him on the 53-[man roster]. Unfortunately, he had another injury to his finger and that was a bit of a setback but he's done a really good job and he's improved every week really since we had him active.
"You look at the draft and we were aware of his abilities so you kind of knew but not really. He started to do it in practice. He had flashes and unfortunately he got hurt. We're just glad he's healthy now."
On the passing game
"We've been aggressive and there wasn't really much difference other than we executed better. There weren't any new state-of-the-art plays. This thing is about players making plays when you have success and we did it better yesterday than we did it the week before. That's why you practice, that's why you play the game. We had confidence that we could get better passing the ball and it was going to be paramount for us to go much further in this tournament."
On the message to players after the win
"You learn with each game, whether it was preseason, regular season or now playoffs. We do have a lot of veteran leadership. We have a lot of guys that are young and have not been there but we have some guys that have been around and they've done a fantastic job explaining to the young guys what it takes in the preparation part of it—and then you just go play the game. But I think the preparation is where you step it up a notch and where some youthfulness can kind of hurt you if they don't understand that. Between our staff and our veteran leaders, I think they've gotten that message across. Just like when we were on that run during the regular season, every week is the bigger game. In reality that's not the case—it's the same game—but your preparation has to pick up and we understand that."
On Josh McDaniels being hired by the Patriots
"We just played them a month ago so I don't view it much differently. I don't know Josh very well. I wasn't here so I'm not really that familiar. I just stay in my lane. Other people make those rules. It doesn't really matter what I think."
On McDaniels' knowledge of Denver roster
"When you do this for a living you have a pretty good idea of most of the players. You [studied] them in college or coached them before and guys just move cities, that's kind of what this league is.
"I mean we're going to go play Carolina next year. I don't think that's going to be a huge advantage for me. Plus, their team has changed and so has ours. I don't think it's a big deal."
On McDaniels drafting several current Broncos players
"I think a lot of people here drafted these players. I don't think one person did. I think that's the case no matter who it is."
On the loss to New England in Week 15
"Their [Patriots'] tempo is a little bit different than some people. I don't know if it will be an advantage but I think they'll understand a little better about a fast tempo, no-huddle offense. Hopefully we can react better this time around than we did last time."
On lineup changes
"Each one of these (games) takes on a different personality and you try to utilize the people on your 53-man roster or the 46 active day roster as it matches up with the opponent. This week could be different yet."
On the play of offensive line
"I think anytime you're Top 5 in any area in this league it's a tribute to the players that do that. I think our guys have been solid all season long. That was the first full game we played without [G] Chris Kuper and [G] Russ Hochstein did a great job stepping in there as a full-time starter. [Offensive Line Coach] Dave Magazu, the position coach, and the O-Line have done a very good job."
On facing New England
"Everybody has byes and everyone has dealt with that before. To me it's not 'where,' it's more 'who.' They are a very good football team; they've got a lot of playoff experience. We will have to deal with crowd noise—that's always a little bit of an issue but it won't be the first time this season we've had to do that. It'll be a huge challenge and when you get to this point in the playoffs that's kind of how it always is."
On if it's hard to practice at New England's tempo
"No. I mean it's all hard but it's something we'll work hard at."
On dealing with crowd noise
"We've got a machine out there that makes a lot of noise. It's pro football and that's what we're expected to do. We'll practice all week just like I'm sure they will, and we'll practice with the noise box."
On controlling the mood of the team after big win
"Our message is to be the same guy. Try to keep and even keel. Don't get too high, don't get too low. You're never as bad as some people say you might be or you're never as good as some people say you might be. Staying even-keeled is what we try to explain."
DEFENSIVE END ROBERT AYERS
On if the win changes the team's expectations
"I don't think it changes anything. I've always felt like we're a good team. At times we didn't play our best ball. At times we beat ourselves and made too many mistakes. Our confidence has never been shattered. I think we still have confidence in ourselves. I don't think the win last night is going to increase our confidence; I just think it's going to keep building on what we already had."
On confidence in his team despite a 2-5 record early in the season
"I just watched how we prepared. I watched how the coaches put in many hours of extra work and the practices we had—the character of the guys on the team. I just never felt we would give up. I knew if the situation came to where our back were against the ball, we would fight through. At that point in the season, our backs were against the wall. We fought through, made it to the playoffs, won the division, and now we're going to the second round."
On if the team's attitude was similar last week
"Not really. I think it was a little different mindset because we knew it was all or nothing. We didn't have another week. Throughout the season, your back is kind of against the wall, but at the same time, you still know it's the regular season. I felt like yesterday we had to take it up to another notch, and I think we did."
On Denver's offense
"Yesterday, we were executing. Guys were catching passes, guys were making blocks and guys were making runs. They weren't turning over the ball. You've got to give our offense a lot of credit; they did a good job of executing. I don't think it's anything where we never showed that we had the potential; we just never did it on a consistent basis. Yesterday, when it counted most, we did."
On if it's tougher to gameplan for the Broncos' offense
"Definitely. I know if I was those defenses, it would definitely present a bigger challenge for us, because we're the leading rushing offense in the league. Now, I don't know the statistics, but I think (Q Tim Tebow) threw for 300 yards. If we can do that on a consistent basis and our defense can keep getting better and the special teams—which has been one of the more consistent bunches of us all—if they can keep playing well, I think we have a good chance."
On improving on things that hurt the Broncos against New England in Week 15
"It's executing. That's the one thing that they do so well. They execute so well. On third down, they convert a lot; in the red zone, they score a lot, so we've just got to be able to execute and get off on third down. When they get to the red zone, we've got to hold them to three or possibly force a turnover. We didn't do a good job of that after, I think it was 14, 17 points they had. From that point on, we didn't do a good job of getting off on third down or holding them to three in the red zone. We've got to do that. We know they're going to get their plays, but we can't give them gifts."
On New England hiring Josh McDaniels
"He's a smart coach. I don't know what role he has or how much [Head] Coach [Bill] Belichick is going to be using him, but congrats to him."
On McDaniels drafting him in the first round
"I thank God for that. God put me in a situation to get drafted where I did and blessed me with the ability. Josh McDaniels pulled the trigger on me with the 18th pick. I thank God, and I also give him a little credit for that too."
On WR Demaryius Thomas
"I've seen him consistently come to work, practice and get better—work on different things. He had some injuries. He kept fighting, working through. He never lost his confidence. Something my dad always tells me is that it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Not every guy who gets out the fastest in the 100-meter dash wins the race. You just have to keep working and keep fighting. He has been doing that."
On if the offense's success
"Honestly, I've never really looked at us (the defense) as carrying the team or anything like that. For them to have the No. 1 rushing offense—a lot of games we won, I think they had 200 yards rushing, 180 yards rushing or something like that. So, that right there can go unnoticed, but it helps us stay fresh. We're on the sideline for a little longer; they're converting down the field, eating up clock. That helps us to stay fresh and go out there. I definitely think they're doing their part, regardless of if the opposing team only has 13 points. I think they've been doing things that go unnoticed and you can't overlook that."
On if the Broncos feel like they beat themselves in Week 15 against New England
"No, they definitely beat us. We did some things that hurt ourselves and shot ourselves in the foot, but they beat us. We couldn't stop them. We couldn't score, and we couldn't do anything on special teams. They definitely beat us. We helped them out with certain things, fumbles, busted coverages, not fitting up on runs...There are a lot of things we did wrong, but they definitely beat us."
On what is different now than a month ago
"I don't know. I can't really say what's different. All I know is that we're going to try to prepare our best. We're going to go out there, give it our all, try to execute—that's something we're going to emphasize this week: executing, tackling and doing what we do best."
On the Broncos' defensive approach against the Steelers
"These coaches do a tremendous job gameplanning, watching film, studying. We saw some things we felt like we could do well. It's the playoffs. There is no time for holding back. I felt like Coach [Defensive Coordinator Dennis] Allen threw the kitchen sink at them. Whatever it takes to win; I think the players feel that way and so do the coaches."
On if he feels satisfied with his game last night
"I don't think I'm anywhere near where I need to be. It's just one game. It's a big game, but I'm definitely not satisfied. I want to keep getting better. I always say I want to be the best player in this league. I'm nowhere near that. I'm not even close. I'm not even the best player on this defense. But that's what I'm going to keep aiming for, and I'm going to keep working. If I ever get to the point where I am the best player in this league, I'm going to try to keep getting better too."
On gameplanning for two pass-catching tight ends
"It's a tough challenge. You've seen all year the Patriots' success with [TE Aaron] Hernandez and [TE Rob] Gronkowski going up against linebackers and safeties in double coverages and able to be successful, but I have a lot of confidence in our linebackers and defensive backs. It's going to be a tough challenge, but if they need a little help, we're going to help them. Up front, we have to be able to get some pass rush and not let them sit back there for long. I think [QB Tom] Brady, he got a little bit comfortable a couple of times. We don't want to let that happen. We don't want to leave those guys on an island too long. It's going to take a complete team effort—offense, defense, special teams—and we know that."
RUNNING BACK WILLIS McGAHEE
On if the success in the passing game affects opposing defenses' gameplans
"That's not our problem. We're not going to worry about that. We're just going to play our game of football, regardless of the situation. [QB] Tim [Tebow] stepped up last night, made big plays. [WR] Demaryius Thomas made big catches. That's something they have to account for going into the next game."
On if an offense can feel when they have a defense on its heels
"Yeah, we sensed it because at the beginning of the game, they were doing a lot of blitzing sending the safeties down inside the box and making plays. Come second half, we made those adjustments; they weren't doing that any more. They were starting to drop back because [QB] Tim [Tebow] hit them a couple of times with big plays in the first half so they tried to adjust to it."
On what the offense needs to do better this time against New England
"We just have to go out there and play Denver football, play our style of football. We can't worry about what's going on on the outside, just worry about what we control and that's us making plays and having fun out there on the football field."
On what he was feeling after the lost fumble yesterday
"It was crazy. I've never felt anything like that before. I thought I was down but people said I wasn't down. It happened; they made a great play, can't take it from them. I had my hands on the ball and they still got it out. I asked the defensive players, 'I need you all to save me.' They told me they got me. They held them down and we went to overtime, I told Tim, 'It's going to be your turn, man. Go ahead and make your plays. Do what you do.'"
On where that game ranks in his postseason career
"I'm just happy to be a part of this team. This is a team where people didn't expect us to do anything coming into this year. We didn't start out the way everybody wanted to start out. So they kind of wrote us off early. Now, we're sitting here shocking people. I'm just happy to be here with these guys. It's a great group of guys, young guys that want to win and they're finding a way to win. Basically, it's the [most fun] I've had in the playoffs since I've been in the league."
On if it was satisfying to see the play-action game pay off
"It's always good to see us get the big passes, especially because everyone says we can't throw the ball. So that's always a plus."
On what was going through his mind when WR Demaryius Thomas scored the game-winning touchdown
"I was happy for Demaryius. I was happy that we won, but I was really happy for Demaryius because he's been going through a lot as far playing receiver with the injuries, coming back...For him to just do that, for him and Tim to do that, period, it was really exciting."
On Thomas' mentality
"When he came back when he got hurt, I already knew he was timid not about playing football but about coming out there and making plays just because of the injury situation. Anybody would be the same way he was when he came back. I was like that. I didn't want to go out there and do this and do that. But it came to a point in my mind where I just had to go out there and do it and that's what I would tell him, 'Man don't worry about it, because if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.'"
On Thomas clearing the mental hurdle
"It was mainly the mental part for him. Once he came back and did what he did, it was all over. I'm pretty sure he's not worried about it right now."
On if yesterday's win changes the attitude of the team
"Our opinion is the same. We're not reading into the hype that's going around with us right now. We're going to stay the same as we were before when we were 1-4 coming into this situation. Nothing's changed."
On advice to the young guys about Saturday's game
"The only thing I'm thinking is we're going to see different is the crowd, the atmosphere around. Other than that, it's just a game, go out there and play your game. That's all you can tell them to do. You can't sit there holding hands. Just go out there and be yourself, go make plays, don't be afraid to be great."
On the young guys using yesterday as a building block
"I think they will just because of the situation we're in and the feeling they had after that game. I'm pretty sure they're going to want that same feeling again next week. I think they know what they have to do."
On the offensive line
"I think they did a great job. [G] Russ [Hochstein] did an awesome job filling in for [G Chris] Kuper. I don't think there was really a dropoff even though Kuper is a big part of our offense. The good thing about it was [Kuper] was with us at the team hotel the night before the game. He always wanted to be in the playoffs, but unfortunately he's not able to play."
On playing the Patriots in the playoffs
"I played against them when I was with the Ravens, going into the first round, we came out with the victory. It's going to be one of those games: Who wants it more? You don't have that second chance where you can say, 'Okay we're going to see them next week or a couple of weeks down the line.' It's going to be who wants it more and who's going to go out there and make the plays."
On what it takes to beat New England in the playoffs
"Execute your plays, run the ball [and] don't put the defense in bad situations."
On Thomas' 80-yard touchdown catch and run
"I wish I could go out there and break one of them, first play for 80 yards. But that's not me, I'm a bruiser. I'm a guy that's going to wear you down as the game goes. I would love it though, don't get me wrong."
On the difference yesterday
"I think those guys were determined to get that job done, in terms of passing the ball. Tim, Demaryius and [TE Daniel] Fells, they had a great day. It's been rough weeks, these past three weeks for them as far as passing the ball. I feel their pain, I'm a running back. I would love to run the ball but there's going to be a time where you need to pass. I think they put that on their backs and ran with it. That was the whole mentality. Go out there and play with a chip on your shoulder."
On Thomas' success through adversity
"He has his mindset right. That's something you have to do yourself, nobody else can tell you. The trainers can't tell you that you can do this, the coaches can't tell you that you can do this. You have to tell yourself before anything. I think he found it within himself like, 'Hey, I can go out here and play to the top level that everybody else is playing at.' And that's what he's doing."
WIDE RECEIVER EDDIE ROYAL
On what to learn from Denver's Week 15 loss to New England
"Really, just the mistakes that we made. This is the type of team that will capitalize on all of those mistakes. You really realize that you have to do the little things to beat this team because they turn out to be big game changers."
On if the Broncos beat themselves in their last meeting with New England
"Yeah, we did some things that are uncharacteristic of us. We're a team that doesn't turn the ball over too much, and we did a little bit of that against them. They're an explosive offense with one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game, so when you're playing against a guy like that, you really have to take advantage of every possession that you have."
On success in the passing game against Pittsburgh
"It was great just because this group is so unselfish, and it was great for [WR] Demaryius [Thomas] to come out and have that type of performance. We all knew that he could play like that. It was good for the world to see."
On QB Tim Tebow's success
"We were just waiting for him to come out and play the way we knew he could and show everybody, especially in this type of game in our home stadium. It was great for everybody on our team, especially the guys like [CB] Champ [Bailey] and [S Brian] Dawkins. We really know how much this game meant to them."
On what changed when WR Eric Decker left the game
"Guys had to step up. [WR] Matt Willis, who's been great all year, has come in and made some clutch plays for us. He's learned every position that we have at the receiving corps, and he's done a great job of filling in for us. When Eric went down, Matt was the guy that really had to step up."
On WR Demaryius Thomas facing adversity
"It says a lot about him. He's been through a lot in his short career. I'm just happy for the guy because I know the hard work he puts in. It was good for us to see him come out and have that type of day. We see it in practice, making amazing catches and running past people, but I don't think a lot of you guys really got to see that from him; but that game showed what he can do."
On if the team has a chip on its shoulder
"I think the whole team had a chip on [its] shoulder, and you have to play that way as a football player and competitor. You have to come out and compete. We know what this team came in and did to us in our home stadium. That right there is enough fire to get us going, but when you're playing playoff football, you don't need to add anything else. We're fighting for each other and playing for our fans."
On the passing game making the offense more unpredictable
"It was big for us because in this league, you have to keep people off balance. Before last week, people knew they had to stop the run. Stop the run and shut down our offense, but now, they have to second-guess themselves, 'Oh, they can throw the ball and be explosive and make some pass plays.' It was good for our offense and good for our team to show that we can do that."
On Josh McDaniels being hired by the Patriots
"I don't really pay too much attention to that. We can't let stuff not on our side distract us. We have a tough team to play. The only thing we can be focused on is football right now.
"I don't think too many guys are going to be thinking about that. We have to worry about stopping [QB] Tom Brady and scoring points on this defense. I don't think you can worry about who's coaching them."
On the offensive scheme
"It really doesn't matter to us as receivers as long as we win. It sounds like I'm just saying that to say it, but I'm not because I've missed the playoffs a few times by one game. I know how crushing that was and what a sick feeling it was to watch the playoffs at home. Right now, whatever we can do to win, that's what we'll work for. I started doing more special teams to get more involved, get my hands on the ball, so that picked up what I wasn't doing as a receiver."
On the playoffs
"It was great, just the atmosphere. I've never heard the stadium as loud as it was. I think it was great for our organization to get back into the playoffs and back to this winning tradition and even better for our fans."
On if there are assignments when QB Tim Tebow scrambles
"It's just find an open area and run there, hope that he sees you. He just does a great job of keeping his eyes down the field. Normally, as a young quarterback, you get that pressure and just think run first, but he does a very good job of keeping his eyes downfield and trying to make plays."
On if he understands the meaning of the win against Pittsburgh
"Before the game you kind of try to treat it just like another game, do your same routine and just go out and play football. But after the game, I think it all started to sink in. You could tell how much it meant to this city and these fans and everybody. Just that excitement and the joy you saw in everybody. It was big and you don't really get to take it all in while you're preparing for it. But after you win a game like that, you see how important it is."
On Tebow keeping his eyes downfield
"I think with each week he's getting better with everything as a quarterback—more experience, he's more comfortable. Watching the film, I was still amazed at how many tackles he breaks back behind the line of scrimmage. It's hard to get a sack on this guy. You have to give him a lot of credit for that, but also the offensive line. They get credit for their run blocking but they do a great job of pass blocking for him also."
On watching the game tape waiting for the big plays
"You were anxious for it and I was excited for [WR] Demaryius [Thomas] just to see him watch that. We watched it on TV a couple of times. I just saw a big smile on his face. I was happy to see that. Like we said before, he's been through a lot this season."
On if he knew Thomas could be that dominant
"I saw it. I remember watching him at Georgia Tech and seeing this guy. He didn't get many opportunities there. But when he got them, he made big plays and that's the type of player that he is. I can't imagine what he would do with 20 targets a game. The sky's the limit for this kid. I just hope he continues to get better and I know he will."
WIDE RECEIVER DEMARYIUS THOMAS
On overcoming injuries during his career
"I was never thinking I would never get healthy. It was the freak accidents that would just happen in my time of getting back on the field. I knew once I got back on the field and got healthy, I could make some plays and help the team."
On if the injuries ever affected him mentally
"I thought about it a lot and I just kept saying to myself, 'I'm always getting hurt. I've had three big injuries since getting into the league and this is my second year.' I just thought about it a lot."
On his stiff arm
"I started throwing a stiff arm when I was in college. I had some big plays in college from a stiff arm."
On what it was like watching the film
"It was great. The ball was on time. All three of my deep passes, I didn't have to stop or anything. It was great. Hopefully we can continue that."
On if the success in the passing game makes it more difficult for teams to defend them
"I think it's tough because we have a great running game. If you try to stop the running game and then you try to stop the passing game, I feel like it would be tough to try to stop both."
On being a key part of a legendary play
"It was amazing. I know walking up to the line, I saw the safety come down, I was like, 'This is going to be a big play.' The middle of the field was wide open. All I had to do was beat the corner. Once I beat him there was nothing but green grass. Once I beat him I knew I was going to score."
On what he remembers about the day he tore his Achilles
"It wasn't that day. It was the day I went to see my doctor. He told me I'd probably be out the entire year. That touched me a lot because I know I didn't play much my first year and he was telling me I would be out another year, my second year. That's the biggest part."
On if he knew the injury was serious
"I didn't know it was serious because I walked off and went home. I went to the doctor the next day and he told me it was ruptured. It was like 8-12 months before I could get back. I asked him the fastest somebody's ever been back. He [said] five months. It maybe took me six months to get back to running."
On if he was surprised he could get back and play at a high level
"I was surprised because I talked to a couple of other players who tore their Achilles and tried to come back early and messed it up again. I came back and I was running. First day running routes, I wasn't sore. I kept running and never got sore. It just got better and better every week."
On if he had to talk them out of putting him on injured reserve
"No, I actually didn't. I was back in the second week of the season before I broke my pinky. I could've been playing before Week 7."
On how he broke his pinky
"My first day back practicing, I was going against [CB] Champ [Bailey]. He broke up a pass play. I feel like he hit my fingers and the ball just hit me right on top. I just thought it was jammed fingers so I kept practicing. Then another ball hit it again and I stopped moving and knew something was wrong."
On Josh McDaniels being hired by the Patriots
"I guess it's another coach. He drafted me and Tim. It'll be good to see him, but it's another game."