DENVER - The Broncos were still sky high after their 29-23 overtime victory over the Steelers tonight, but a few players did have some thoughts about facing the Patriots again.
New England defeated the Broncos 41-23 on Dec. 18 at Sports Authority Field to halt Denver's six-game winning streak. Dominated the first quarter to take a 16-7 lead, but three second-quarter turnovers started the Patriots on a 27-0 run that gave them control of the game.
Of course, this week will feature the subplot of Josh McDaniels, who was the head coach of the Broncos from 2009-10 and drafted quarterback Tim Tebow, being a part of the Patriots' staff as an offensive assistant.
Broncos end Elvis Dumervil didn't know McDaniels had already relocated after being the Rams' offensive coordinator this season.
"McDaniels is over there? Already?" he said. "That will be funny. We’ll see, we’ll get after him."
Most players thought the McDaniels storyline was much ado about nothing.
"I mean, it doesn’t matter, really," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "I don’t know how much affect he’s going to have or not. It really doesn’t matter. He’s not on the field. I’m worried about the guys on the field."
"It gives you guys something to write about of course, and something for us to read during the week, it’s the buildup, but again it’s about trying to win a postseason game," cornerback Andre Goodman said. "It’s all about winning. It has nothing to do with who’s on the other sideline."
Here are some of the players on the first matchup against the Patriots:
Quarterback Tim Tebow
"They’re a very good team, one of the best players in football in Tom Brady playing for you, one of the best coaches in Coach Belichick so you know they’ll have a great gameplan and you know they’ll be well rested and they play hard, they play well and we’re going to have to go get ready for them tomorrow."
On his post-game talk with Tom Brady: "He was very nice and very kind and he said some very nice things and I really appreciated it."
On if Brady said 'we'll see you again': "He might have said something like that. So I guess he’s a prophet, I don’t know. What an honor it is to play them again, have that opportunity, and it’s exciting as well, to be able to face one of the best quarterbacks and one of the best teams in the league."
Running back Willis McGahee
"I didn’t finish the game (leg injury after having 70 yards on seven carries) so I definitely felt like there was more out there on the field. Just ready to see them next week. ... I know coach Belichick is going to have those guys prepared well for us but we just have to go out there and play our football."
Cornerback Champ Bailey
"(The loss) sucked because we were on a roll and we lose a game like that (and) it sucks, but it was almost like a reality check. We weren’t playing as good as we know we were. To have that loss, it kind of woke us up a little bit. ... We’re the same team, we just play different. We play harder, smarter, more physical I think that’s the only you’ve got to play in these playoffs.”
"I knew how they were going to attack us. One thing about them is they have a smart quarterback, a smart quarterback, smart coaching staff, so they’re going to find the weaknesses and the holes and it’s tough. We’ve got a nice chess match coming up next week and we’ll get it figured out one way or another."
Cornerback Andre Goodman
"Tough, a team that we knew put up a lot of points and were able to put up a lot of points on us. What I took from that game was we weren’t able to make any big plays. And today, I think those big plays are what helped us today and we’re going to need those types of plays to beat a team like the Patriots."
"I think the one thing about the Patriots is you know they’re going to put up points, and we have to be able to counter that by making some big plays on defense."
"I think what we able to do during the stretch where we were winning games in terms of keeping the score down on defense, making big plays on offense and then special teams complimenting us and giving ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter, we did none of that against the Patriots. I don’t think we’re a different team. When we don’t play our game, the score gets out of hand the way it did."
Safety Quinton Carter
"After this game, we had some of the same calls, same situations against the Patriots and we didn’t execute. Against the Patriots, we had guys running open all down the field and you can’t make those mistakes against a team like that. It’s on us to just play smarter."
“You cannot make mistakes a great team like that, they’ll exploit you as they did right here on our field."