Vince Wilfork, Defensive TackleQ:
You had to be pleased with how the defense played tonight. Holding Peyton Manning to 21-points – you've got to take that right?
VW: Any day. We just knew what the game plan was and if we just execute it well and communicate well, then we'll be in good shape. And we did that. It wasn't perfect, but at the same time, the majority of the time we did what we wanted to do and we played the game how we wanted to play it and it worked out for us.
Q:You guys had three fourth-down situations in the fourth quarter and you got off the field. What did that mean for this defense?
VW: I mean, any time you have a fourth-down stop, it's always huge, no matter who you're playing against. Playing against Peyton Manning, just trying to get something going. And we knew we had – there were plenty of times on third downs that we just figured we were in four-down territory with the way the game was going, with some wind and stuff like that, just knowing the situation. Any time you can go on the field and come up and get the offense the ball back against Peyton Manning or anybody on fourth down, that's a huge stop. It's like a turnover. We did a good job of that tonight and we just executed better. We executed well. We were more consistent in what we did. Everybody understood what we were doing and we didn't have too many problems, so it allowed us to play fast and aggressive. We're going to need more of that this year.
Q:I know it's different week to week, but what are you maybe doing now that you weren't doing a few weeks ago. I know you mentioned execution.
VW: Consistency. That's the number one thing and communication. We can go back and look at every game we played and every time that we did something negative, if it was penalties, it was out of gaps, whatever it may be – it just cost us. Being able to play the run well on one down and turn around and play it crappy three more times and it was the same run. It was just being inconsistent. So I think the more consistent we get, the better we'll be as a defense. The more we'll play together, the more we'll trust one another, the better this defense will be. So communication and being able to be consistent – I think that's probably the main two things that will help us out.
Q: A number of guys who haven't see a ton of playing time like Akeem Ayers, Malcolm Butler, Alan Branch – how important was it for those guys to step up and contribute?
VW: This week was a great week for all of us. Once we got the game plan and we kind of figured out what we needed to do… we practiced with noise. Bill made it as realistic as possible for us and we had to force ourselves to communicate in practice. Everybody came to work ready to work and focused. That's one thing we don't lack. We don't [have] guys that come in just to be here. When you're here, we're learning, we're getting what we need to get done, go on the field, do it, come inside, make the corrections and see how it looks. Throw stuff out if we need to, keep stuff, add stuff. So my hat goes off to this team. We did a lot of things tonight. A lot of things we haven't done in the pas.t it was something different for all of us. We did it and we did it well. Any time that you can practice well… and the main goal is to bring it Sundays and game days and that's what we did tonight. We practiced well and we brought it to the game.
Q:You guys have played very well defensively the last couple games, but is this more of a confidence builder to shut these guys down?
VW: Not really. We knew if we executed well how the game could turn out, so we weren't surprised about it. It's not a confidence builder. Like I said, you take all the games that we played, the ones we won and lost, we could do some things better and you'd be looking at a totally different team and a totally different defense. It wasn't about Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, it was about making sure we know what we're doing, understanding the situations that we're in – we just happened to be playing Peyton Manning and the Broncos - the best team in the league. We executed well, that's what we did tonight. We executed well and it showed tonight.
Q: You guys have a history of playing very well in these tough-weather, snowy, windy games. What is it about you guys and bad weather?
VW: We prepare for everything. I think Bill [Belichick] does a really good job of just practicing through whatever we get. Sometimes we'll be upset going in snow on the practice field: 'Why can't we go in the bubble where it's nice and warm?' But it pays off for us. It's paid off for us ever since I've been here, before I was here, so we continue to do it because the more we can play in the condition that we may get, the better I think the team will be and it's proven. It's just one of those things that whatever it is, we're going to deal with it. If it's on game day or in practice, we're out there in it. Unless it's lightning and thundering then he might take us into the bubble, but for the most part, we're on the field playing in whatever it may be.
Q:How important is it for your secondary to play physical like they did today? A guy like Brandon Browner who brings some swagger back there and Devin McCourty is physical too, and they were hitting.
VW: That's one of the things we want to do: we want to be a physical team. We want to play aggressive. And when we do that, we're successful. When we don't do it we let teams off the hook and it's not good defense, because we're built a certain way and we have guys that can play that way. To have Browner back there, to have Devin and all those guys back there, or to have whoever it may be on the defense, when we're playing aggressive and we're playing up to who we are, physical, we're a real tough team, we're a tough defense. It's one of the things, once again, going forward that we just have to reiterate: That's how we want to play the game. That's how we need to play the game. We did it tonight and were successful with it.
Kyle Arrington, Cornerback
(On trying to plan for Peyton Manning)
"It didn't take Peyton too long to figure out what we were trying to do. I think it was the third or fourth series when he got it going a little bit. We felt that we just had to hold up and get the ball back to our offense as many times as possible."
(On Denver's offensive strategy)
"The crossing routes, over routes. They were trying to high/low us a lot. We tried to mix it up [and go] man zone. It's a chess match out there. We figured we were in the zone [coverage] and he was trying to high/low us and it's about us getting disciplined within our drops."
(On the multiple third and fourth down stands)
"We had a great bend but don't break mentality. They were moving the ball downfield on a couple drives on us, but we did a great job on a few of those fourth down stops. That's like turning the ball over. Like I said, if we can get it back to [Tom] Brady and those guys, that's a win for us."
Malcolm Butler, Cornerback
(On playing against Peyton Manning for the first time in his career)
"You've got to be ready anytime you get the opportunity to play and I just went out and did the best I could do for my teammates."
(On if the game lived up to the hype of the Broncos-Patriots matchups)
"I just came out and played ball. I just go with the flow and cherish every moment. That was a good group of guys we played against and we just had the upper-edge and used the momentum and took off with it and kept going."
(On covering Emmanuel Sanders)
"Fast guy. Pretty fast guy. Good competitor, but you know, I just had to come out and play my game and do everything to help my teammates and everything fell into place."
(On playing with emotion)
"I'm just letting you know I'm here to play and letting my teammates know they can depend on me. I'm just playing ball and having fun."
(On playing in front of the home crowd in big games)
"The crowd, the fans are a big part of the game. They are going to give us good momentum and good energy and you've got to use that to your advantage."
(On knowing Peyton Manning is targeting you)
"I knew he was going to come after me. New number, new face – just got to be ready for things like that. You got to know he's going to come after you and just be ready."
Jonathan Casillas, Linebacker
(On making his Patriots debut)
"It feels great. Huge win against a really good team and one of the best, if not the greatest, quarterbacks of all time. It's an unbelievable game that we played. It was all three phases that came together and was my second win of the year, so that's pretty good."
(On going from Tampa Bay to New England and on a team in a playoff hunt)
"We all, as human beings, aspire to win and it's natural for us to lose and not be at our best after the loss. It's a tough 24 hours when you lose. When you win it's fine. The tough part about winning is forgetting about how good you did and moving on to the next week. Losing is tough and in Tampa, we lost bad a couple of times, and I was part of those losses. Being on a winning team, I had won some games in New Orleans; I'm just looking to help out as much as possible with whatever I can do here."
(On if the game met his expectations of the Broncos-Patriots rivalry)
"It did. I didn't even know; the trade kind of happened so sudden. I was at work that day. I got my lift in, I watched the film from the game and I was ready to participate the next day as a Buc. Calls start coming in and I said, 'OK, I'm going to New England.' My dad called and said, 'Hey, I heard you were going to New England.' He probably found out before I did. Then he goes, 'You know you got Denver this week?' And I go, 'Holy crap.' The mindset is get in; I flew in that night, which was Tuesday, and got to work Wednesday morning and have been trying to put as much OT as possible to get caught up and I think I did a pretty decent job at it."
(On if he was happy with his performance)
"We've got to look at the tape. I know I had a couple of tackles on kickoff. We'll look at it. It's pretty good when you can get on the stat sheet, but I think I did an OK job playing with these guys. It's a great group of guys. You know, I think the special teams is if not one of the best, these best special teams group I've ever played with. They play at a high level, so I'm just trying to compete with those guys on every play."
(On what makes the Patriots so good on special teams)
"I mean, I've played against [Matthew] Slater and I've always known what he's been doing just because he's that good of a player. And then getting here, you've got Chris White, Don Jones, Nate Ebner; you know, those guys are making plays left and right, so you've got a group like that where everybody is fighting to make plays, it's not all about Slater. He's not the only one making plays and that's when you get a good group; when you don't know who's really going to make the play and you've got a group of guys that's hungry to make tackles, hungry to make blocks and basically selling out on every play. I think that's what you have here."
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On what he learned about the team after the win)
"I learned that we have a team that, you know, prepares hard, is mentally tough, is physically tough, and that continues to try and get better, so as long as we keep on playing like that, continually trying to improve, we'll be alright."
(On the punt return for a touchdown)*
"The guy dropped the ball, [Britton] Colquitt – I was like, 'Is he going to punt it?' and he punted it, and it was kind of low, and it didn't turn over, and I set up some blocks, and I turned, and saw Tim, Timmy Wright, and he hit someone and I bolted the way we were supposed to go, and went this way, and I just saw a bunch of guys out there blocking their tails off and, you know, we got in the end zone, so it was a great team play."
(On getting the win before entering the Bye Week)
"I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat that one. When you go into a Bye Week, you get a week, and you don't want to have that taste [of a loss] in your mouth, and you know, it makes things a little easier."
Rob Gronkowski, Tight End
(On what the team learned about themselves after the win)
"We're just coming together. We're playing as a team, and we stick together as a team, and the team chemistry is coming along very well, so we got to keep it up, keep up the hard work, and keep playing as a team."
(On whether the team can use the victory to measure where they rank amongst the other NFL teams)*
"Nah, we're just taking every week and just playing as hard as we can, and just prepping, and practicing as hard as we can. We're not measuring ourselves where we are, we're just measuring ourselves as a team; as sticking together, and staying together, and whatever happens, stick together, and keep practicing hard and keep playing hard."
(On whether he will remember that one-handed reception)
"Yeah? It was a pretty good catch. Tom [Brady] put it where I could make that play, so it just happened. It's just a reaction – going to the ball, when you see the ball, you want to go for it, so it's just a natural reaction to go get it, so it ended up being a one-handed, so it was pretty cool."
(On whether he can give a rating to his catch)
"It was a good catch, but you guys can do the rating of it, but [I'm] just trying to make plays and make as many as possible when my number is called."
(On how much fun it is to play with Tom Brady right now when he is playing at such a high level)
"Oh yeah, he's playing unbelievable right now, so is the team. Our defense is playing great, our offense is clicking, everyone on our offense; receivers, [offensive] o-line, running backs, everyone, so we're just come together with some team chemistry all over and we're all playing well."
Brandon LaFell, Wide Receiver
(On if the game lived up to the hype)
"Yeah, it was all the hype. Both teams came out and competed, gave it all. Tom [Brady] had a great game, and we came out with the victory."
(On if he felt the momentum turning in the second quarter)*
"You definitely do. Give credit to Julian [Edelman] and the punt return team. They stepped up and made a big play right when we needed it. It was like from that point on, we had the momentum of the game, and every time we got the ball after that, we just kept putting drives together and getting points."
(On if the team has confidence that they can score points no matter what)
"That's how we feel before the game even starts. We've got a guy like Tom [Brady], and when he's on like he was today, I don't think there's anybody better. And when our offense is flowing, everybody getting the ball, we're really tough to stop."
(On how good it tastes going into the bye week with a win)
"It's a great taste because not only going into it with a win, but [if we] win, [head coach] Bill [Belichick] is going to give us a little slack in practice this week. But if we would've lost, it was going to be a real tough week for us. In the end, having a little break, everybody getting their bodies back healthy, and getting a win like this, coming back and still riding that wave."
(On if they were aware or annoyed by the media scrutiny earlier in the season when the team was struggling)
"We really weren't annoyed because we always have saying, 'Don't listen to the noise,' and the noise is the people outside the locker room. We never listened to it. We just kept doing what we do, make plays, continue to work our butt off and continue believe in each other, and eventually it started to click."
(On the team having the lead over the Broncos in terms of playoff seeding)
"That's thinking too far ahead, but it's a big win. It's a big win because at the end of the day, everybody was calling them the best team in the league and that you could go out there and imagine yourself, play this game at home, get a big win like we did, then we're pretty good now."
Devin McCourty, Defensive Back
(On the importance of Brandon Browner's third-quarter interception)
"Oh, that was big, to come up and to make a play like that and get us right back in scoring position. Like we've been saying all season: line Tom [Brady] up, line the offense up and get them back on the field. If we give them a short field, we're guaranteeing points. With our offense and with Steve [Gostkowski], at worst we're going to get three. And, I think, defensively, that's how we're playing. We're playing confident that if we get our offense the ball in scoring territory, we're going to get at least three points. And that will help us win every week."
(On the physical play of the Patriots' secondary)*
"I think it's big for us as a defense. No matter who we play, we've got a six-foot-four corner [Brandon Browner], we've got [Darrelle] Revis, one of the most patient corners as far as getting up there and pressing. I think that everybody knows what Kyle [Arrington] and [Patrick] Chung – they're not the biggest, but they're like little pit bulls down there. And I think that's the key for us each week. We've got to go out there and play physical. And if we're playing against a team that's built on being physical, we've got to match it. We've got to play to that. And a team like [the Broncos], like you said, who have so many weapons and their passing game can get going – there can be 'unders,' 'fades' and just everything – it's big to try to throw off the timing and go that way. I thought those guys up there did a great job of throwing off timing and making it tough. You're not going to make every play against them. They have great players over there. I thought we did a good job of just making everything tough all game, for 60 minutes."
(On defending Peyton Manning)
"You get up there, you get too physical and all you want to do is jam the receivers, they're going to pick route. It's a balance of – I think our guys did a great job this week coming in and studying. Knowing what we've got a chance – you don't fully know what you're going to get, I told you guys earlier in the week. But knowing what you've got a chance of and stopping what can hurt you the most and then going and playing from there. I thought we did a great job of that for 60 minutes and just battling them. A couple times they got right down in the red area, we got off the field on fourth down. That's huge. No matter what's happening in the game, when you get off the field against Peyton Manning and that offense, that's huge."
Darrelle Revis, Cornerback
(On the team's defensive plan)
"You always have to be physical, especially how we play on the defense. We want to be aggressive and you've got to be physical. That's how we play. Today we mixed it up with a bunch of coverages and at times we had to get physical with them. We executed those."
(On Denver's offense)*
"It's an explosive offense. They put up big numbers every game and they're explosive, all of them. Emmanuel [Sanders] is fast. Demaryius Thomas is big and fast. Julius Thomas is big and fast as well. We did a great job. We understood what they were trying to do and what they were trying to accomplish on offense and we definitely came out and played every down. It was 60 minutes and we executed like we were supposed to."
(On the play of Tom Brady)
"Tom has a lot of heart. He's probably our No. 1 leader on this team and to see him go out there and execute and just be fearless…he's been fearless out there. He's been doing it throughout his career. You want your big players to step up in big games and when his number is called, he always executes and does what he needs to do."
Matthew Slater, Wide Receiver
(On Julian Edelman's punt return for a touchdown)
"…We gave [Julian Edelman] some space, we didn't let him get lit up back there by those gunners. The guys did a good job blocking and Julian did what Julian does."
(On special teams having a big impact on a game played in adverse weather conditions)
"Definitely. And let's not also forget about our specialists. In those conditions, it's very difficult. Danny [Aiken] doing a good job snapping it. Steve [Gostkowski] is always – I'm biased, but - the best kicker in the league. And then Ryan [Allen] has some huge punts for us, especially that 65-yarder or so. Those guys don't get a lot of [publicity] or credit, but hats off to them as well."
(On why the Patriots' special teams unit is so consistent)
"I think we put a lot into it. We take a lot of pride in what we do. We have guys that understand their role and are willing to sacrifice for the greater good and I think that goes a long way. [Coaches] Scott [O'Brien] and Joe [Judge] do such a good job of getting us ready and we really have a lot of confidence as a unit. We enjoy one another, we enjoy playing together and, fortunately for us, it shows up on Sunday."
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