You can usually tell how the game went the day before by how long Mike Shanahan takes questions at his weekly "Day After" meeting with the media. Today was no different, with a variety of topics to discuss following the Broncos 15-14 win in Buffalo. Here's what the coach had to say --
"Well you couldn't do both. Any time it's third down and 10, and let's say you get nine yards--You spike the ball and obviously the game's over. Where I was standing, I thought it was still fourth and inches, but it didn't matter because you're going to anticipate that before the ball is snapped. So, for our guys, as soon as they were down, they were taking off the field, so that option of the quarterback spiking it was out."
On if P Todd Sauerbrun and K Jason Elam had that kind of speed running onto the field --
"Well, we work on that quite a bit to be honest. In our practices and our summer camps, we do it all the time. Usually we work on it at 17 seconds where you can run a play, and if you get 10 yards, usually you can spike it with about three seconds left. If you get more than 10, if that play were to have gone for 15 or 20, we wouldn't have gotten it off. It worked out pretty good. You don't surprise them. It's practice. You put them in situations where you just run a play. They're on the sideline, and they take off just the same as a game situation."
On the excitement of the locker room in Buffalo --
"I think it's the most excited I have ever seen a pro team where everybody hits the field, and it's like a college atmosphere. The only other time we were ahead was when there were zero seconds on the clock. What Todd (Sauerbrun) does is he takes a look at the clock at three seconds and gives a hand signal, it takes about a second there, so the ball is snapped with about two seconds and the rest is history. It was sure nice to find a way to win a game that way."
On if the snapper, holder or kicker is the most stressed in those situations --
"I think it's the coaching staff. Everybody was excited. It was a lot of guys working together, getting on the field. Todd (Sauerbrun) looked at Jason (Elam) and he was ready to go, looked up at the clock, gave the hand signal and obviously got it done."
On how much time was left for the last play of the game --
"I think when the ball was snapped it was at 18 seconds. Sometimes we can have a timeout and with 17 seconds on the clock you can run a play, as long as you don't get anymore than 10 yards, and you're comfortable where you can at least spike it to stop the clock with a few seconds left. We practice the same scenario coming off the sideline, but usually it's after a play, not in the middle of one."
On what the win can do for team confidence --
"Well it's a long season. We lost our first game two years ago, and went 13-3 and played in the AFC Championship game with a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Last year we lost, but started off the first half of the season extremely well. I could give you all kinds of scenarios--Teams who have been 8-1 and ended up 8-8, and teams who have been 0-4 and wound up going to the championship game. It's a 16-round fight and the first one we won, but there are a lot of rounds to go."
On the Broncos' overall performance --
"Any time you hold a team to under 200 yards, you have to think you're defense is pretty good. When you get 470 yards of offense, you move the ball quite well. Obviously when you have 470 yards, you should have about 40 points, so we have some work to do. Special teams, we didn't really play very well with the exception of the field goal, so we have some work to do in that area. The good part about it is you find a way to win the football game. You've got a lot of film to look at, a lot of mistakes were made, but we did some good things as well."
On if QB Jay Cutler liked running the option --
"I'm not sure he was too excited about that to be honest. He executed pretty good. The thing is one of the best defensive plays with Chris Kelsay, the defensive end, makes a tackle or that thing goes for about a 98-yard touchdown. It's amazing to me to have a defensive end play as hard as he did. To go down on the line of scrimmage on a Daniel Graham, or a tackle like Erik Pears, and to have toe hustle to make the play 30 yards down the field. That was one of the best defensive plays I've seen in the NFL. It had a good chance to go for a touchdown unless he made the play."
On playing the option --
"We ran it three times. It's a design play. The defensive end makes one of the best defensive plays I've seen or that goes for a touchdown. You get the fullback going one way, and your tailback takes a jab-step, kind of like you do in college. It's the counter-option where people have been running in high school and in college for a long time. Usually when you get them backed up on the two or three yard line, you know for sure what they are going to do, and put a little pressure trying to get a safety; I thought Jay (Cutler) did a good job of executing it when he turned up and pitched it to Travis (Henry). It was good execution."
On running the option in practice --
"You usually don't do it with a guy unless they have done it in college. Jay's first two years at Vanderbilt, that's what they ran, the option. When the guy has done it a couple of years at the collegiate level, it's pretty easy for him to run it at the pro level. You don't want to make a living doing it. Vince Young has been doing it at Tennessee and has done a great job. Jay said he would like to have it in I think every week now, so I'll probably have it installed each week."
On RB Selvin Young knocking the ball out of bounds late in the game on a fumble --
"He's a sharp kid and has some awareness about him. He's an extremely bright kid and the game is not too big for him. You could see that in the preseason. He has a great understanding of what is going on around him, and he proved that in his first game."
On if QB Jay Cutler made a mistake on that play --
"He didn't do the wrong thing. He did the right thing. He needed to make a play there. He scrambled to the right and there was a strong safety blitz; They had a zone dog on and it was a heck of a call by them in the down and distance situation. Jay had to pull up, and the only thing he did was throw it a little bit too far. He had a great feel; that was his second receiver. With the blitz, he didn't have a chance to go to the first one, so he had the presence to throw it to him or at least dump it to him. If he does dump it and doesn't go over his head, he has 20 or 30 yards. Obviously he threw it a little over his head, and Selvin had the presence to knock it out of bounds. You've got to make plays as the quarterback and you can't be afraid, and he wasn't afraid to make a play."
On the overall attitude of QB Jay Cutler --
"He has the confidence in (WR) Javon (Walker) that if he can't make the play, he is going to keep it from being intercepted. He was just being the quarterback."
On developing a feel of how good the defense will be --
"I just take it game by game. After the first game when you are No. 1 on defense, you can't complain, even though we know we made a lot of mistakes in the game. When you give up seven points, you have to feel pretty good about where you are at. You know we haven't arrived, by no means was it a clean game, but we understand that there are a lot of good teams out there in the National Football League. We are going to keep on trying to get better, and take it day by day and hopefully get to where we want to be."
On being concerned about the tackling --
"We had some missed tackles. We are working on that, trying to wrap guys up. We had a number of missed tackles, some missed assignments, and luckily we got out of it being exposed. To do some of the things that we did, I thought was very impressive. Third downs and we got them off the field, put a little pressure on them and kept them off balance. That's what you try to do."
On the play of DE Simeon Rice --
"I was happy with him. Tim Crowder couldn't play because of his ankle, so I asked Simeon to come in and play between 15-20 plays. He came in and played 17 plays, made a couple of big time plays, one on the reverse, and just got a good feel. I think it will help us in the long run."
On G Chris Myers and G Montrae Holland --
"I think they did great for their first game. Their first starts with Denver, Erik going over to the right side, Montrae playing the right guard, and Chris Myers playing the left guard, I was pretty pleased with how they handled themselves."
On the return of T Matt Lepsis --
"It was good to get Matt back. He's gained a lot of confidence with that knee. Any time you play a full game, when you haven't played for close to a full year, I thought his first game was pretty good."
On the play of CBs Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly --
"It's the first game. Let's not get carried away. They played a good game. We will get tested a number of times, but I'm pleased with Champ and Dre's play, and overall with the defense. As I said, we made some mistakes, some missed assignments and tackles, but at the end of the day they gave up seven points and 185 yards. That's not too bad."
On Buffalo going for the deep pass on third down late in the game --
"You never know what the game plan is. That guy (Lee Evans) is so fast, if that ball were to have been right there, they had a chance to complete it. I never second guess play selection. I do myself after it's over with, but it's so easy to be like `Why didn't you do this, why didn't you do that.' Then if they were to have hit that thing in for a touchdown, I would have said, `Hey, what a great call.' I'm just glad they didn't complete it when they had a chance. We were fortunate enough to have that penalty, which gave us better field position as well. I was pleased with that third-and-23 we overcame that long yard situation. We had to come back and make some plays when we had too."
On K Jason Elam making adjustments to P Todd Sauerbrun as a holder --
"I think there is always an adjustment. Most cases would say there is an adjustment period, but Jason would be the first person not to blame it on the holder; that's for sure. The only thing I could think of is that he'll be 100 percent for the rest of the season. He only missed two (field goals) all last year, and that's pretty good. We'll take that."
On any hesitation of putting CB Champ Bailey on special teams --
"No. The great players will play special teams. You know we had him there and he made a couple big plays, and that's why you have him there. He's got the speed, and if something does break out, he's playing his safety position."
On Bailey's attitude about tackling and not being afraid to get in the middle of things --
"It's pretty seldom when you find a corner that has his kind of skills. Does anybody have his type of skills? He's a total package and loves to play the game. He loves to tackle and loves to compete. He doesn't care if he's covering somebody, coming up for run support, he's going to make the plays, and made a number of them yesterday."
On the play of LB D.J. Williams --
"I thought D.J. played a great game. It's going to be a growing experience, and he will get better with each game. For his first game (at middle linebacker), he played well."
On thoughts about the Raiders --
"I look at them a lot differently than most people do. I look at them as a team who was third in the National Football League on defense with an offense that was very poor. Their offense is much better and their defense has the same personnel back. They were down, went ahead of Detroit I believe in the third period, so that kind of gives you an idea. They score 21 points, and I haven't watched the film yet, but they are a different football team. I can see already."
On expecting Oakland QB Josh McCown to start the game --
"I really don't know. I would think so, 30 out of 40, that's not too bad, with a couple touchdown passes. I hope they bench him."
On Denver LB Louis Green --
"I think he's ok. The trainer's said he came in for treatment, so I think he'll be ok."