HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
"First of all, I want to congratulate Denver on an AFC Championship. They have a good football team. They're well-coached. They have a lot of good players. They played a bit better than we did today. I'm proud of our guys. They fought right to the very end, like they always do. We just couldn't quite make enough plays, obviously. It's disappointing. It was a disappointing result. There were a lot of big plays in the game. Any one of them probably could have made a bit of a difference. I just think we all feel, as coaches, players—it's such a fine line today between winning and losing that we all could have just done a little bit more and it might have had a different result, but it wasn't. It's a crash landing to the end of the season like there usually is in the National Football League."
On not capitalizing on red zone opportunities
On Denver rushing four players
"They did a good job and we hadn't run the ball well enough to take them out of much of that. They have a good pass rush. Their coverage was tight. They did a good job. [Broncos Defensive Coordinator] Wade [Phillips] is a great coach. He does a great job and they have good players. Defensively, they're a really good team. We knew that."
On attempting two fourth down conversions in Denver territory
"It was the score and situation in the game."
On if he has any regrets on fourth down attempts
On K Stephen Gotskowski's missed extra point
"There are a lot of plays in the game. A lot of big plays in the game. We had a chance at the end. They made they play."
On if he would reveal his words to Broncos QB Peyton Manning on the field at the end of the game
On the defensive performance
"We did a lot of good things, defensively. We gave up two touchdowns on double moves and the field goal at the end of the half. There were good plays and then, you know, a couple of ones that you wish you would have back. We could have made a red-area stop or that field goal at the end of the half. That ended up being a big three points, too, which we didn't help ourselves on that on offense or the field position with the punts. It was a combination of things. We'll look, but a lot of guys played well on defense. I'll have to look at the film and see how it turned out. I think a lot of guys played well. We did a good job in the running game, but that short yardage play—that was another three points. In the end, it just wasn't quite enough."
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
On the consistent pressure he faced today
"They've got a great rush. They've got some great pass rushers, they've got interior pass rushes, they've got some outside rushes. I think you complement that with good coverage. It was just tough for us to ever get into a rhythm and finally to score some points here at the end, and then for it to come down to a two-point conversion is a tough way to obviously end the season."
On the interceptions
"It was just a bad decision. [TE] [Rob Gronkowski] went in on him and was breaking out, and I think [LB] Von [Miller] knew that and he did and he made a good play."
On if he expected Miller to drop
"They rush more often than not, but those are the things that quarterbacks have to see."
On the defensive line
"It was a tough day, hard-fought game all day. They're a very good defense. They played well all season. They've got good coverage, they've got a good rush, put a lot of pressure on you. We made a lot of plays. There were just a lot of plays we didn't make. A lot of fourth down plays that ended up costing us. We made a couple, but again there were too many of those and we never could play with a lead, we never could play on our terms, so it was an uphill battle all day."
On the problems they faced on fourth down
"I think you make some, you're not going to make them all. We hit the fourth and 10 to Gronk, we hit a fourth down for the touchdown. I just don't think you're going to be 100 percent in those situations, so unfortunately we had four or five of them, they just didn't go our way. They cost us points and cost us an opportunity to move on."
On the talk at halftime
"We were happy we were still in the game based on the way we played offensively. We just could never really get in a rhythm with what we were doing, so it was a tough, hard-fought game. They did some good things defensively. We had some plays offensively I think we should have made, and we just didn't make them."
On when he did have time to throw the ball
"Yeah, I think you get into some rhythm out there, and then when you do have time you're still in that quick rhythm. There were definitely times where I had opportunities to hold the ball and didn't really have great awareness of where people were around me. Maybe sometimes I had more time, so I'll look back on all those plays. It was a disappointing loss because this team fought pretty hard just to come up short on a two-point play. It would have been a fun overtime had we had the opportunity, but we just came up one play short."
On his injuries
"It's football. I think there were a lot of plays I got hit pretty hard today, so it's just football."
On his offensive line
"They hung in there all day, and I think that's the strength of their team. Our strength was trying to get the ball to our skill guys and let them make some plays in space. It's a tough front, and they're good players. They're teeing off on the cadence. We're trying to keep changing it up. And on defense sometimes you just got to get one play and you end the drive, so I think they did a great job today."
On the end of the season
"It's pretty special to play in this game. Obviously, to advance to the next game, that's why we all play and work so hard, so it's disappointing not to have the opportunity to do that. It takes a lot of good football to do that and beat some great football teams. We lost to a very good football team today. I wish that two-point play would have been different. I'm sure everyone could look at different plays throughout the game when it's that close and say, ‘man, I wish I would have made that play.' But I'm proud of the way we fought, and certainly fought to the end."
On kicker Stephen Gostkowski
"He's a great player. He's the best. Everyone misses them at some point. There was plenty of football left. We knew what the situation was."
On Gronkowski battling dehydration to make plays
"Yeah, he made two great plays, both on fourth down. He split the defense, they were trying to double him and ran right through it. And then a touchdown. I still don't know how he caught that ball. I was kind of retreating, retreating, trying to buy some time and just saw him break out and let it go. It was a great play. He toughed it out all season, so I'm proud of him. He's a great player."
On Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning
"They've got a great team, so he's a great player and someone I've always admired."
On the fourth and one play to wide receiver Julian Edelman
"Yeah, they were looking for the sneak, and we had to do a misdirection. It wasn't really Julian's guy who got him, it was the guy who fell off, so he made a pretty good defensive play. He had the other guy in man coverage and just kind of was there waiting for it."
On if the pressure he faced was similar to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl
"That was a little different. That was certainly different. This is a different game. When you play quarterback, you're going to take hits and that's part of it. You've got to stay under there and make the throws. There's no excuses for me not getting the job done. Our guys fought hard. I'm proud of all the guys for what they tried to accomplish today, and like I said we just came one play short to a very good football team."
On the plays that haunted them later in the game
"There's plays that are being made back and forth, so you've got to move on from those. I think we did a good job of that today. We had some good momentum there in the fourth quarter. We were moving the ball. We just didn't quite get it in when we needed to."
On if the Broncos' defense played according to their tendencies
"I'll have to see the film."
On what is next
"I'm not sure, so I don't know. Get over these bumps and bruises, that'll be the first thing."
On the fans back home
"It's been such great support all season. I'm proud of how we fought today. We went right to the end, we just came up a little bit short. I wish the outcome would have been different. You've got to play really well to earn these victories. We just came up a little bit short, so thank you."
On not being able to be back-to-back Super Bowl Champions
"Well, I want to win it every year. I'd love to finish in the last game of the year and win it. It's a pretty tough thing to do. Hopefully I have more opportunities for that. This team fought really hard, we just came up short."
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI
On the challenge moving the ball against the Broncos defense
"We definitely had sometimes tough tasks moving the ball. Every time we get the ball, we want to put points up on the board. You've got to give credit to Denver. They're a good team. They're a very solid defense. They've got great players on their side. They just made more plays than us, but we've just got to do a better job."
On if he was cramping during the game
"Yeah, I was cramping. I was actually just kind of disappointed in myself at that moment. I don't know exactly why I was cramping. I prepared for this game like I have for every other game with hydration and all that, but it just got to me. I had to fight through it. The trainers did a great job. I had to just pound a couple of bottles of water on the sidelines. I felt really full at some point, but I battled back through it. As an athlete, you just don't want that to happen. I'm definitely going to take that consideration down the road to make sure stuff like that doesn't happen again in games, but it just did this time. It was freaky that it did. It didn't happen all year but battled through it, came back and I was fine after I pounded a couple of bottles of water."
On getting into Denver territory and not catching the ball
"It's always frustrating when you have an opportunity, we're in the red zone and you just don't capitalize. What else can I really say about that? Definitely is [frustrating] so we've just got to go out there and just make more plays."
On the Patriots struggles in the red zone today
"It's football. They have a good defense. It's not like we were going out there and playing some defense that has nobodies on it. They've got great players, and they just made more plays than us when they needed to."
On how physical Denver was at the line of scrimmage
"They – as a defense, when I was lined up more inside – definitely jammed me a little bit. I haven't seen it all the time, but they did a good job at it and we've just got to figure out ways to get off it, but I did sometimes. You've just got to deal with it. That's football."
On the Patriots fighting until the end of the game
"I'm proud of this team. The defense, you've got to give them credit. They did a great job today. Just throughout this whole season, throughout this whole game, you've got to be proud to be on this team. Everyone fought, everyone battled and everyone gave it all they got. I'm proud to be part of this season. It was a great season overall, and it just came down to that two-point conversion. Like I said, Denver made more plays than us."
On Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski
"Stephen does a lot for this team. I'm proud he's part of this organization. I love playing with him, and he definitely shouldn't put the heat on him. It's a team game. You win as a team; you lose as a team. It's not just one individual's fault. Like I've said, Denver just made more plays than us. That's what it came down to, but you can't put it on the hands of Stephen. There's no way."
On if he was held throughout the game
"I've been used to that all year. It happens. That's football, but I've got to do what I've got to do to get open. They called one or two penalties of holding. It was a good call on the one – he had my jersey – but overall, you've just got to go out and execute as an offense and not really worry about holding penalties and all that. You've just got to go out and execute."
On if he was held on a potential TD catch
"Was I held? I don't know. I felt like I was because I couldn't even jump. I felt like [CB] Aqib [Talib] had me. He's probably going to be texting me later and be like, ‘Yo, I was holding you, bro.' I felt like he was but sometimes you go back and you look at it and he wasn't. It is what it is, though. I think the ball was going out of bounds on that anyways, too, but we fought on the next drive and we did what we had to do to score."
On the coverage he faced on his fourth quarter TD
"I think it was double [coverage]. They had a guy outside, a guy inside. Just made a move. I had a route to go either way, and when I saw the guy inside, the guy outside, I was just like, ‘Screw it. I've got to go whatever way it is.' I went out. [Patriots QB] Tom [Brady] just threw it up in the air and just had to go up and make a play."
On being close to going out of bounds on the TD
"I was aware of the end line. Definitely don't want to get that close to it in a situation like that because that's the last thing you want – you catch the ball but you step out of bounds so it doesn't count. I was definitely aware of it. I just knew I had to come down and not be out of bounds on that."
WIDE RECEIVER DANNY AMENDOLA
On his immediate reaction to the loss
"Props to the Broncos. They played hard. They're a tough team. We battled our [butts] off, and I'm proud of our team just for the whole season."
On the Broncos' defensive pressure
"Regardless of the pressure, we've got to do our best to make plays and score points, and we just didn't get it done."
On if the Broncos played differently than in the Week 12 game
"No, they didn't. They played a lot of man coverage. We've just got to make enough plays to win, and we didn't do that."
On the halftime discussion
"We just wanted to concentrate on doing our job, doing our job and not necessarily worrying about the score, try to make as many plays as we can and get the ball in the end zone. We just couldn't get it done."
On Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski's missed extra point
"We fought our [butts] off so I'm proud of our group. At the end of the day, we didn't get where we wanted to go, but like I said, I'm proud of everyone in this organization."
On the game's final drive
"It came down to the last play. It came down to the last play of the game – fourth quarter, game is on the line. It's what you dream about, and it hurts, for sure."
On assessing the Patriots' 2015 season
"It'll take a couple weeks to do that, but I'm proud of our guys."
On if the loss is more emotional because the game was so close
"We knew it was going to be a fight. We knew it was going to come down to the end. They're a good football team, and we knew what we were in for."
On if he thought the Patriots would tie the game on the final drive
"We knew it was going to be a dogfight, and that's what it was."
On Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski's performance
"He's a great player. He's the best teammate, and he's all you can ask for."
On how proud he is of his team
"I'm definitely proud. We've got a bunch of fighters in this room. It sucks we couldn't get it done, but we're going to hold our head up high because we're all proud of each other."
CORNERBACK MALCOLM BUTLER
On his initial reaction following the loss
"It's most definitely different from last year. I'm upset but then again not really. Everybody went out there and we played to the end. It came all the way down to the end, but that's just the nature of the game. You win some; you lose some. We've just got to bounce back and come back next year strong. It came down to the end. I'm not upset. I am but I'm not because I saw us out there fighting. I saw both teams fighting. Especially that we fought to the end, I can't ask for anything better."
On if the Broncos did anything differently offensively than in Week 12
"No, not anything different. We've just got to go out there and make the plays. We just came up short. That's a good team. I think we played them well. It just came down to a certain amount of plays."
On if he thought the Patriots would tie the game on the final drive
"Most definitely. That was the goal. That was what happened. We just came up short. Everybody gave a great effort and couldn't even be that mad. It is what it is."
On QB Peyton Manning
"I never doubted Peyton since all the little buzz about him. Great player went out there today and played a good game. Salute to him."
On the Patriots run defense
"We didn't do a great job of stopping the run the first game. That was the mindset coming in, stopping the run. We just had to hold up on the back end. I think we did the best we could."
On Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski's missed PAT
"No one is perfect. That's just life. We're all going to make mistakes, but most definitely want those. We're in this together. He missed it; we missed it. It's a team effort."
WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN
On his initial reaction following the loss
"It's tough. You put a lot of time and effort in to put yourself in this situation and you've got to tip your hat to them. We didn't play our best football, but they made more plays than us when they had to. That's why they won."
On if the Patriots got tired toward the end of the game
"We thought we were going to tie it. We practiced that situation a lot, and we just weren't able to execute it on that play. We do have a mentally tough team to stay in the game mentally all the way down to the end. It just sucks when you don't play your best game against a really good team, a really good defense – you can't expect to win."
On Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski's missed PAT
"One play doesn't define a game. There were plenty of opportunities for us to overcome that, and Steve nailed two field goals to keep us in it. It's never just one play. Steve is a stud. We love him to death. No chance it is on him. No way."
On if the Patriots' offense changed in the fourth quarter
"We just made plays. That's what the game comes down to, making more plays than the other team. Unfortunately, we didn't make enough plays to go out and win in the AFC Championship."
On if the loss is easier to digest, given the Patriots fought to the end
"It did display how physically and mentally tough this team is, but when you lose, it sucks."
On Patriots QB Tom Brady taking a lot of hits
"Tommy is a tough S.O.B. I wouldn't want to have any other guy in the huddle."
On when he'll watch today's game film
"I don't know. Personally, I'll probably just get away for a little bit. I don't know. We'll see."
On if the Broncos were throwing a lot of people at him
"They were putting guys in the right place and using two and cutting guys over here. They had a good gameplan. They just made more plays than us, and it's unfortunate because you go to a game like this hoping you can play your best game and that wasn't the case today. We'll tip our hat to Denver."
On if the loss was more stunning because the Patriots have consistently found ways to win
"No, you can't expect to win when we didn't convert on a bunch of things. We just didn't make plays when we had to. Our defense stuck in there and kept us in the game. It's just unfortunate we couldn't help them out."
On the Patriots' missed two-point conversion attempt
"We just didn't execute."
KICKER STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
On the missed extra point in the first quarter
"I just feel terrible. All day, these guys put their bodies and lives on the line and for me to come out here and miss a kick, it's a nightmare scenario. I can't even explain how I feel right now. It's just a complete shock and I let a lot of people down. It's not a good feeling."
On if anything specific went wrong on the play
"I just didn't hit a good kick. I'm not one to make excuses. I should have made it. I've made hundreds and hundreds of those. Sometimes, timing is everything. I never would have thought that missing a kick in the first quarter would be the difference in the game, but that's why you have to be good all the time. That wasn't the case for me today."
On whether he takes the blame for the loss
"I'm always upset when I have a bad play. It's part of the job. I feel sorry for myself but I'm not expecting others to feel sorry for me. I work hard to be good and I came up short today. I let a lot of people down today, the guys on our team and the fans. All I can do now is stand up here and take it all on me. I feel like I lost the game for the team and I should have been out there kicking that tying extra point and helping us go into overtime. I just have a feeling that I can't put into words. There's nothing I can do about it now. I had a good week of practice, just sometimes things don't fall your way."
On whether he was hoping to get another chance to make up for the missed kick
"Again, anytime you have a bad play you want to get back out there. I was hoping and praying for an extra shot and I didn't get that. These are a lot of tough guys out there and I hate that I couldn't join them in the toughness and in making all the plays."
On if he felt good about the missed kick as it left his foot
"It just wasn't a great kick. You have to be ready to go on your first kick and I just didn't have a good kick."
On what are his feelings moving forward and looking back on the season as a whole
"It just stinks. It's a nightmare. You want to help the team win. You don't want to the reason you lose. It's not a good feeling. I deserve all the blame that I get and I'll try to hold my head up high. I'm not going to make an excuse, I should have done better. I'm sorry I couldn't come through."
DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN MCCOURTY
"We fought hard. We felt we had a good team and we wanted to be playing in the Super Bowl, but we fell short and have to move on."
On how he felt the defense played
"We did some things well. They made some plays which proved to be the difference. It was a tough game between two good football teams, but it was a couple more plays that they made which was really the deciding factor."
On if he felt home field advantage made a difference for the Broncos
"No. I mean it was a 20-18 game and they played better. I don't care if we were at Denver or New England or anywhere else across the country, they just played better football today."
If it was tough to see Patriots' QB Tom Brady continue to get sacked throughout the game
"It's part of the game."
On TE Rob Gronkowski's efforts today
"This team is resilient. You can talk about every player on this team going out there and trying to execute when it matters most. ‘Gronk' made some huge plays and we expect that out of him. He went out there and did more than we could ever ask of him."
On if they saw what they expected to see from Broncos QB Peyton Manning
"We knew we were playing one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. He played really good football and got them a win."
On what halftime adjustments they made
"We just executed better. There were some plays (in the first half) that we were right there for, but they just made the plays in the first half and we made them in the second. But nothing we did was really different."
On if the defense was aligned correctly on the Broncos first touchdown reception by TE Owen Daniels
"We'll have to watch it and see what happened. It happened fast; we talked about it on the sideline but we'll have to see when we go and watch tape."
On team coming up short
"You have to play your best football when you're in the AFC Championship game. Every game comes down to just a couple of plays, but especially when it's a 20-18 game. It's always just a couple of plays; they made them, we didn't."
CORNERBACK LOGAN RYAN
On his initial reaction following the loss
"We fought to the end and didn't get it done, simple as that."
On if QB Peyton Manning exhibited more mobility and accuracy than expected
"No, he's a good player. He always has been. A decent game, I felt like we played pretty well defensively. We just didn't get the turnovers we needed and wanted to get to give our offense extra possessions."
On if the game felt uncharacteristic to the Patriots' performances this season
"No, we were an onside kick away from maybe kicking a field goal to win so nothing uncharacteristic. It's just the way the ball bounces sometimes."
On if the loss was more emotional because it was such a close game
"We've won this [AFC Championship] game; we've lost this game. It hurts either way. You fight so hard. We had a whole bunch of believers and a whole bunch of guys and felt like we worked hard enough, and they worked hard, too."
On Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski's missed PAT
"He made every other kick after that. To me, he's the best kicker in the league, always has been. He's made many game-winning kicks and after that, he made every single kick they needed him to make. To me, that's why he's the best at what he does."
WIDE RECEIVER MATTHEW SLATER
On the team typically finding a way to win, but not being able to do so today
"It's a crushing defeat. I think all of us believed we were going to win this game but we just didn't get it done."
On what he felt the difference in the game was
"It's really tough to say because it was such a close game, but they just made a few more plays than we did."
On if he can reflect on the season as a whole
"It's been a tremendous year. We were under so much scrutiny the entire offseason. People didn't have a lot of great things to say about us and we took that personally. It was our goal to come out here and win as many games as we could and achieve the ultimate goal just like every other team in this league. I think as an older player when your career is obviously closer to the end than the beginning, it's tough. There is no guarantee that you're going to get back to these games, and that's tough to swallow."
On if this was the hardest season he's ever been a part of
"They are all hard. We know how a lot of people feel about us and it's very hard to play in this league and have success, and this year was no different. You mentioned it, there was a lot of stuff going on this offseason and at the end of the day we felt like we did enough to get ourselves in a good position to go to the Super Bowl and we got here and just didn't quite get it done."
OFFENSIVE TACKLE SEBASTIAN VOLLMER
On how difficult it was matching up against Denver's defensive line
"They're good rushers. [Broncos OLB DeMarcus] Ware has been doing this for a long time. Same thing with [Broncos OLB] Von [Miller] only not quite as long (of a career in the NFL). We tried doing some different things but it didn't always work."
On if the crowd had an impact at the line of scrimmage and having to use a silent count
"Yeah, that's always part of it. The crowd was definitely loud today for them which caused some problems at times. It's not easy but it's also not the first time we've ever been in that situation."
On what went wrong along the offensive line that led to QB Tom Brady being pressured as much as he was
"I think it is more of a credit to those guys on Denver's defense. It's a very strong defense. They were the No. 1 seed and they showed why today."
On how his ankle feels and if he was playing at 100 percent today
"It's the playoffs, we've played a lot of games (on the season), I don't think anyone out there (for either team) is at 100 percent. It is what it is. I wouldn't make an excuse like that."
On if it makes it tougher going up against a speed rusher like Broncos OLB Von Miller
"Well I didn't go up against Von much. Again, I don't know, it's always difficult. I don't have much to say about that."
On what QB Tom Brady was saying to the offensive line on the sidelines
"I don't know, you would have to talk to him about that."
On what the team's mindset was on the final drive of the game
"It's like any other drive in the game, we didn't do anything special. You have your opportunities and you have to execute; we didn't. If you have a chance (to win) you just have to try and do it, that's what we're here for."
On how frustrating it is to be so close to the Super Bowl and come up short
"I hate when we lose, it's not a good feeling. Especially in the playoffs and now we have to go home and watch the Super Bowl."
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
On the Denver defense
"They didn't do anything out of the ordinary. We just didn't play our best football."
On the feeling after the loss
"It doesn't feel good. It leaves a sour taste in your mouth. We know we didn't play our best today and we have to play our best to win a game like this."
On why they continued to try and run the wheel route down the sidelines to him "Yes, we were confident. I just have to try and finish those wheel plays."
On whether there was one pass he feels he should have come up with
"Yes, all of them. I had a chance to get all of them and I just have to make the most of those opportunities."
On how close they were to completing some of the long passes to him that fell short
"They were a couple of inches away from being a big play. I just have to try and find a way to come up with them."
On their third-down failures
"We just have to convert no matter what they're running against us whether its zone, man or press coverage. We just have to try and win those and we didn't do that today."
On the Denver defensive coverages
"They dropped a lot of people into coverage sometimes. We had to hold the ball a little bit longer. Like I said, we just didn't convert the way we wanted to."
On looking back on the season as a whole
"We went through a lot. Our guys battled all the way through the season. A lot of guys got injured and everything and we just pushed through. We had a great season it just wasn't the outcome that we wanted."
On quarterback QB Tom Brady's performance
"I have all the respect in Tom [Brady]. He's our leader and we follow him. We don't want to see him get hit like that and we just have to do a better job of protecting him. I have the utmost respect in him. He's a competitor."
On whether he believed the team would go down the field score on their final drive
"You never have a doubt in your mind especially with him in the huddle. We thought we had a chance to win."
On why the offense was finally able to get something going late in the game
"We had an opportunity to try and go in and tie the game up. We just wanted to go out there and try to get a touchdown and a two-point conversion. We got the touchdown, but we just couldn't convert the two."
On how frustrating it feels to come all the way back and then lose the game on the two-point conversion
"It's frustrating. I mean, it shouldn't even have come down to that. We didn't play our best football and that's why the game came out like that."