Broncos-Chargers: Notes, quotes

The SportsXchange

DENVER BRONCOS

--Perhaps mindful of their double overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional playoff round last season, the Broncos ditched the conservative approach and let it all hang out offensively in the late going Sunday.

With quarterback Peyton Manning passing for two key first downs, the Broncos ran out the final four minutes, keeping the Chargers from getting another shot at a game-tying score. Still, the harrowing finish brought back some painful memories.

"Yeah, absolutely," Denver cornerback Champ Bailey said. "We have been in a position like this before, except this time we found a way to get it done, and on to the next opponent."

--The Broncos, according to coach John Fox, lost only one player to injury in the game, but it came at a key position heading into the AFC Championship Game against quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Cornerback Chris Harris left the game in the second half with what the team said were knee and ankle injuries. There was no immediate update on his status for the conference title game.

--Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker had six catches for 38 yards in his return from a concussion. He missed the last three games of the regular season after suffering his second concussion of the season. Welker wore a specially designed oversized helmet to better protect his head from any damaging blows.

"I have been practicing with it the last few weeks, so I got used to it," Welker said. "But it is kind of looking like 'The Jetsons' out there."

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

--The Chargers' defense jumped offside five times during the game, drawn into the repeated neutral-zone infractions by Peyton Manning's hard count. The mistakes cost San Diego on a couple of Broncos' scoring drives.

"You'd think after a couple we would learn from it," Chargers safety Eric Weddle said. "But that's Peyton being as great as he is, mixing it up, dummying his calls. He kept us off guard throughout the entire game. It was exceptional by him."

--Chargers running back Ryan Mathews started the game but he wasn't able to finish. Mathews, who missed practice last week because of a lingering ankle injury, rushed for 26 yards on five carries, and he didn't play in the second half.

--First-year coach Mike McCoy led San Diego to a 5-1 finish in the regular season and a playoff win before their season ended. While expressing disappointment over the postseason loss to the Broncos, he likes the direction the team is heading.

"We came up short," he said. "We've got to win more games and be the last one standing. That's the ultimate goal. ... But I told the players, 'Keep your heads high.' They did a lot of really good things as a football team this year. We got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time."

QUOTES

--"We call it the four-minute drill, finishing with the offense on the field. We didn't want to punt the ball back to them and give them an opportunity. We knew that we needed to go out there and do what we needed to do so we could end the game in a victory formation. There's no better feeling for an offense than to go out there and kneel to win the game." -- Broncos tight end Julius Thomas.

--"(The defense) is still a work in progress. We've got to be a much better team because we've got a much better quarterback and team coming in here next week. (The New England Patriots) gave us a good beating a couple of months ago, so we're looking forward to it." -- Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey.

--"It's hard to explain all the stuff we've been through, offseason and in-season. To get to this point was hard work, and to win this game was really hard work. We are proud and happy to be at this point, and we certainly want to keep it going." -- Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

--"We're extremely disappointed. We're hurting. You work every day, every hour every minute for a chance at the ultimate goal -- the Super Bowl. And then to have that goal not attained, it's hard to deal with. It will take a very long time to get over it, if you ever do. The only real chance you do have is to get back in this position and move forward. But for this team, to fight down 17-0, it could easily have been a blowout. But we stuck with it, kept believing in each other. It just shows the character of this team, that we're never going to give up. Hopefully, that character, that toughness will stick with us for years to come." -- Chargers safety Eric Weddle.

--"Offensively, we found a rhythm. Keenan (Allen) made some tremendous plays. Guys stepped up. Collectively, we were able to get going eventually, but when you play a team like Denver, it's just so hard. We ran out of time to come back." -- Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

--"It took us too long to get the ball rolling and start executing. (But) in one season, we've turned around this organization and we're heading in the right direction. There's a lot of pride in this room. There's a lot of tough guys in this room who have fought through a lot of injuries this year and gave until they couldn't give any more." -- Chargers center Nick Hardwick.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball
View Comments