Head coach John Fox on how the Patriots have reinvented themselves with a balanced run/pass offense
"I think, first of all, it's a great franchise. This is their third appearance in a row in the [AFC] Championship game. [Head Coach] Bill Belichick and his staff have done a tremendous job - have for some time now - [and it is] no different this year. They've had a lot of things happen to their football team, just like we have had a lot of things happen to our football team, and I think that they've done a tremendous job kind of reinventing as far as the run game. They've lost pass-catching tight ends and have incorporated some guys that are doing a really, really good job in the run game. They roll the whole stable of backs throughout the season. They've kind of settled in on [RB] LeGarrette Blount who's a really physical downhill runner we're familiar with from his days in Tampa Bay. Bill has adjusted - that's why he's going to be in the Hall of Fame."
Fox on what stands out about New England's pass defense
"I think they've improved. They're young, they're athletic. Again, they've adjusted on that side of the ball as well even from the last time we played them. [LB Brandon] Spikes went on [Injured Reserve] and [they] brought in [LB Jamie] Collins, who's a guy we liked in the draft. He's very, very athletic - good size. I think in the secondary they've done a tremendous job, and because they were youthful and all those snaps make you better, they've definitely improved."
Fox on what he makes of the QB Peyton Manning vs. QB Tom Brady element of the game
"I think it speaks to both players. They both accomplished a lot of great things in this league. They haven't carried or spoiled the league, so that doesn't surprise me. As far as matchup and all those things, it's a little bit like this game, and in games when they get in bigger magnitude, it's really noise, and both those guys understand. I can't speak for [them]. They have to speak to that. This is going to be New England Patriots versus Denver Broncos, and I think they understand that, and I know that everybody that sits in this room before press understands that."
QB Peyton Manning on New England's pass defense
"Well, their entire defense is solid. Like [Head] Coach [John] Fox said, they've had a number of injuries, so some great players have gone on Injured Reserve. Like they've done many, many times in the past, it's just been ‘next man up' and [they've] just replaced some of the other guys that are healthy and raised their level of play and played even better. They really were just able to keep chugging along, so it's always been impressive. They're solid. They're very rarely penalized and do a good job of keeping teams out of the end zone. They create a lot of sacks and are good at creating turnovers as well."
Manning on his impressions of WR Wes Welker prior to becoming a Bronco and if they have changed during the season
"Like Coach Fox said, a lot of things that I think a lot of people thought about Wes as an opponent all proved to be true once he joined us as a teammate. I always assumed that he was an extremely competitive guy that loved football and a guy that loved to work, he loved to practice. The way he played - I saw him many a time play Colts versus the Patriots - so to have him become a Bronco, all those things checked out. He's a gym rat. He loves the game, loves to work after practice [and] loves to talk in meetings about routes that he thinks might have a chance to get open. He's very knowledgeable of defenses and how teams have played him in the past, whether they've double-covered him or whatever it may be. So he's been a fun guy to play with, I'll say that."
Manning on how he can describe playing against New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
"I don't know if I have a word that really jumps out. Coach Belichick is the best coach that I've ever competed against. I think it's safe to say he'll go down as the greatest NFL coach of all time. So, the teams that he has coached that I've competed against have always been well-coached, always been prepared, always played hard for 60 minutes. If I had to think of a couple of things that have stood out about the teams that he has coached - and you know I've played against him when he was a defensive coordinator with the [New York] Jets and then as the head coach at New England - those things jump out every single week. To me, that speaks to his coaching."
Manning on how important it is for him to have a chance to get back to the Super Bowl after the injury he overcame
"We're excited about the opportunity. There is no question that we have come a long way in the two years that I have been here. I have certainly come a long way. A lot of people have helped me and have certainly put a lot of hard work into it, and it is very rewarding when you put [in] a lot of hard work and it pays off with the opportunity to play in a game like this. You don't take [it] for granted, especially when you've been through an injury, been through a major change and you're in the home stretch of your career. We're excited about the opportunity; we've worked hard to get to this point. Coach Fox mentioned how many obstacles the Patriots have overcome to be in this game. We've overcome a number of obstacles, as well, to get here. Starting way back to the offseason, starting back to maybe last season's playoff loss. It's commendable to the team that we fought through those obstacles and we put ourselves in this position and [are] playing a great football team - AFC Championship. It's certainly very exciting."
WR Wes Welker on the differences between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on and off the field
"I'll try and answer this and be as indifferent as possible. There aren't too many differences. They are great quarterbacks. They do a great job of keeping guys accountable, and their leadership skills and everything else. They are two guys you want quarterbacking your team. It's a toss-up between those two."
Welker on the differences in the Patriots secondary from the last game
"Their secondary I feel like is the real strength of their defense and of their football team. They have a lot of good players back there and lot of good cover guys. Their safeties are very knowledgeable of the game and they do a great job. I don't see too many differences from what they did in the first game going forward, but we'll just see how it plays out."
Welker on if he talks to the team as a veteran guy about how hard it is to get to a Super Bowl
"I think me being a young player, I remember. I try to tell them about when I went in 2007, we were undefeated and we lost in the end and I was thinking we'll be back next year, and we'll be back the next year and the next year and we are going to win one. You don't realize how hard it is to get there. You've got to appreciate it and seize that moment and you have to take advantage of it. Injuries happen, free agency happens, all different things happen. The opportunities of getting to this situation are so rare that you've got to seize that moment and take advantage of it."
CB Champ Bailey on whether he is ready for an increased workload
"Absolutely. I'm ready for whatever they want me to do. That is the way I prepare. I've never not prepared like that. It wouldn't be a surprise if that was the case."
Bailey on whether he thinks about the 2005 AFC Championship Game - the last time the Broncos were in this position
"Not a lot. I can't look back; I can't change it. It was disappointing at the time and frustrating. It is what it is. That was eight years ago. It's not like it was two years ago. It's definitely behind me. I'm just looking forward to this challenge."
Bailey on whether he ever doubted that he would get back to an AFC Championship Game
"We had some up-and-down years, but that is the reason why, when my contract was up - the time before this one - there was no doubt I wanted to be back here. Because this organization is about winning, so it wasn't going to take long until we got back to it. I feel good about what I did and am definitely glad I'm still here."
LB Wesley Woodyard on New England's tight ends now being more blockers than pass-catchers
"Like you said, the two guys that they used to have in there, they were a huge success in their passing game. Now they've got those guys up there and they're trying to run the football. I think they're averaging around 200-some yards within the past two games. So when they get in there, you know what kind of mentality it is. It's a smash-mouth game, and you've got to be ready to come downhill."
Woodyard on whether this will be the biggest test for the Denver run defense
"It most definitely is. [Head] Coach [John] Fox always talks about [how] the next game is the biggest game, and this is going to be a huge game with [Patriots RB LeGarrette] Blount coming in with I think three great games the past games. It's always going to be a challenge to stop the run, especially in the playoffs. With the way they've been running the ball and the way they know how to scheme around it and get players out of their gaps and taking advantage of it, it's going to be a huge challenge this week."
DB Omar Bolden on the challenge for the Denver safeties because Blount hits the second level so well
"They're definitely putting a challenge on the DBs to make those tackles one-on-one in the open field. So far, it's a formula of success for them, so I don't see why they wouldn't come in here and do the same thing."
CB Marquice Cole, newsly signed from New England, on how much he can help scout the Patriots
"When you have people like Peyton, I'm pretty sure he knows more about the defense than even I would. Same thing with [Patriots QB] Tom [Brady]. What could I can say to Peyton Manning, you know? What, ‘They're going to be in cover-one, they're going to be in cover-two, they're going to be in cover.' It is what it is. He is going to do his scouting, which I'm pretty sure he's been doing before I even signed here, so there isn't much I can do to help out."
WR Eric Decker on learning from the game at New England in Week 12
"Well, you learn from every game throughout the year. I think that game-specifically for us, because we're matching up against them again. We got off to a good lead in the first half and we didn't put it together in the second half. So making sure that every drive, every possession we have, that we're moving the football-that we're not turning it over. Because when you talk about playoffs and you talk about opportunities, you've got to minimize the mistakes. That is something that we're focused on this week."
Decker on the importance of playing at home
"That's the name of the game-to try to get that home-field advantage throughout the season so that you set yourself up to have the best chance to make it to the end. To be at home against them-they've been obviously very good at home, they had their four losses on the road-to be with our crowd, in our environment, it's an advantage we need to use."
DT Terrance Knighton on if facing a bigger back like LeGarrette Blount changes anything for him
"For me, no. As long as the back's not bigger than me; he's not bigger than me but almost. I don't have any worries but we'll have to gang-tackle him and they have three running backs that are capable, four, really, that are capable of going back there and exposing you. We've just got to know who's out there, our personnel and know guys' running styles. He's more of a downhill guy so we'll try to hit him before he gets going."
Knighton on if he would be surprised if New England came out throwing the ball
"No, it wouldn't surprise me because San Diego had some success at the end of the game doing that and they had success when they came back on us Week 12. But in the playoffs it's about running the ball and controlling the clock. They'll come out and try to do that and we'll do our best to stop that and force them to throw the ball."
TE Julius Thomas on if the Patriots have changed defensively since their last meeting
"They have some guys, their middle linebacker that has been there for a long time goes on IR (Brandon Spikes), but the Patriots are always going to do something different. They're going to try and find a way to have you out there thinking and confuse you a little bit. We're going to do what we have to do and we'll definitely see what they throw at us on Sunday."
Thomas on the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl after one more victory
"For us, I'm sure they're doing the same thing, but preparing for a tough opponent that's in the way of you advancing to a Super Bowl. We're going to have to go out here and prepare and we're going to work and we're going to do our best to come out and play at the highest level we can and execute at a high level. We know it's going to be a good game, we know they're a great opponent, so there's that much more focus that you have to be on top of everything."