ENGLEWOOD, Colo –Head Coach John Fox and several Broncos players answered questions for the media on Monday at the Denver Broncos training facility at Dove Valley. Three offensive and three defensive players spoke on a variety of topics. Here are some of the highlights:
Head Coach John Fox:
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 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 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."
Safety Mike Adams:
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."
Defensive Tackle Terrance Knighton:
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 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."
Linebacker Paris Lenon:
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."
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 jell 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."
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 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 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."
Running Back Knowshon Moreno:
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 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."