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Broncos: It's not about the quarterback, it's about the team

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It was national news yesterday that Peyton Manning - who had been benched for six games with an injury - was the official starter for the Broncos first playoff game. But the coach, the quarterbacks and the players tried to remind fans the focus shouldn't be on one position but on the entire team getting the job done.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Though they tried their best to make a quarterback controversy out of Gary Kubiak's decision to start Peyton Manning, reporters were denied any sizzling quotes from the coach, the quarterbacks or their Denver Broncos teammates.

Instead, it was business/talking points as usual.

"Our team is very professional. They all know that we all have a job to do," Kubiak said on the team's reaction to Manning as starter. "When we walk out of that room, we're all on the same page and going in one direction."

It was at least "as usual" as a media circus gets when a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer - one who, mind you, was on the bench six days ago as the backup - both won his starting job back last Sunday and got healthy enough to prove he could keep it this week.

Despite the multitude of questions to Gary Kubiak, Manning and even Brock Osweiler and a dozen other players, the message remained steadfast: Broncos will need every player to win this as they need to - as a team.

"You know, I have confidence in our team. That's what I have confidence in," Kubiak told reporters on their fifth iteration of the "how do you feel about the two quarterbacks?" question. "I obviously think the world of both of those players, but I have a lot of confidence in this football team because of what it's been through, how it's continued to battle, the way it has found a way to win close is battle tested, and it's time to go be at your best."

Being at his best is exactly what Manning intends to do. Saying his foot came out fine after the San Diego game, the 18-year veteran is mainly happy to be contributing to the team again.

"Brock has done a great job," Manning said, adding that a lot of players are responsible for getting the team to a 12-4 record and a No. 1 seed. "This has been our team all along. This has been a ‘we' from the get-go on this team. Everybody had done their part. That's the only way that we're going to be able to have a chance in the postseason - everybody doing their part, and I want to be able to do my part."

Osweiler, certainly disappointed in not being the starter, is all-in for the Denver Broncos.

It's hard to hear that you're not going to be the one playing. ...Facts are facts. I didn't finish the [San Diego] game. Peyton is going to start in the playoffs. That's something I support 100 percent.  -Brock Osweiler

"It's hard to hear that you're not going to be the one playing. However, I'm a big team player. If Coach feels that Peyton gives this team the best chance to win in the playoffs, I fully support that. I stand behind Peyton, I stand behind Coach and I stand behind this team," Osweiler said. "The bottom line is that I just care about this football team winning games."

Having to answer the same question over and over, Osweiler handled it like the pro he has been all season and reminded reporters that making second guesses over whether he'd be the starter in the playoffs if there hadn't been so many turnovers in the last game was really a waste of time.

"At the end of the day, facts are facts. I didn't finish the game. Peyton is going to start in the playoffs. That's something that I support 100 percent," Oz said. "That's what makes this football team so special. We're all in everyone's corner."

Kubiak dismissed the notion that it would have been advantageous to withhold a decision and make the Broncos' upcoming opponent prepare for two quarterbacks. The coach was more interested in being fair to his team.

"I'm worried about my team and our guys knowing what we're doing. They know exactly what we're doing," Kubiak said. "We know we're going to have to play extremely well - a lot better than we played the other day - but that's the way it should be this time of year."

Kubiak also discredited the idea that Manning should feel pressure to play well or he'll be benched.

"I don't want him to ever do that," Kubiak added. "Our quarterbacks know exactly how I feel and we move forward, so none of that is happening."

At the same time, Kubiak has reminded Osweiler to be as prepared as he has been all year.

"I promise you that he'll be ready to play," Kubiak said. "He's been awesome for this football team. This team knows that they can count on him to be ready to go."

Players said both what was expected and what was hoped for as they fielded question after question about the quarterback.

"Like I've said before, we have plenty of depth on this roster. We're just happy no matter who's at the helm," said running back C.J. Anderson. "They're going to lead us where we need to go. We have to do our job behind them."

Demaryius Thomas was happy to have his friend healthy and ready to play.

"I'm glad to have him back. He's healthy now, and now hopefully we can make a big run," Thomas said. "He looked like the old [No.] 18. He's healthy. That's all he had to do is come back and get healthy, and he did that."

Defensive end Malik Jackson slightly less enthusiastic in his comments, noting Osweiler did great but Manning is a Hall-of-Famer. But Jackson says he mostly likes to worry about how he needs to prepare and not about others.

"I worry about myself. It's one of those things that it is what it is. I think it just showed that we've got depth on our team. We've won with both quarterbacks, so it doesn't matter," Jackson said. "I'm happy for [Manning], but as long as you win, it doesn't matter. It is what it is. I don't really pay too much attention to it."

Aqib Talib, a cornerback at the Buccaneers and then Patriots before signing with the Broncos in 2014, agreed with reporters that the Broncos' locker room - and team - is one of the closest he's been part of.

You guys want to make it about Manning, but we have a big-time playoff coming up. It's about the team. It's never about one guy.  -Emmanuel Sanders

"I mean, Peyton was hurt. He was hurt. It was a situation where your starting quarterback got hurt. Forget how he was playing, he was hurt," Talib said, adding that Osweiler did "a hell of a job" stepping in. "We weren't divided at all - Peyton was hurt. He couldn't play. There wasn't a reason to be divided."

Fellow No Fly Zone compadre T.J. Ward summed up what he'd prefer the focus from the media be this week - the playoffs, not one position on the team.

"I think we've always focused on the end of the tunnel," Ward said. "It seemed that every position was out at some time during the year, but our main goal is to get in the playoffs. After that, there's another season. We have a three-game season to win a championship, so take it one game at a time."

Emmanuel Sanders couldn't agree more as he reiterated his post-win comments from Sunday.

"You guys want to make it about [Manning], but we have a big-time playoff game coming up," Sanders said, adding he is just looking forward to getting ready for the Broncos' first playoff game. "It's always about the team. Kubiak is telling the truth. It's about the team. It's never about one guy. It's never about one coach. It's never about one play. The game doesn't come down to just one play. The game comes down to several plays, several players making plays. That's what it's about."