Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman (23) runs the ball against New England Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington (25) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Q: You had to be pleased with how the defense played tonight. Holding Peyton Manning to 21-points – you’ve got to take that right?
VW: Any day. We just knew what the game plan was and if we just execute it well and communicate well, then we’ll be in good shape. And we did that. It wasn’t perfect, but at the same time, the majority of the time we did what we wanted to do and we played the game how we wanted to play it and it worked out for us.
Q: You guys had three fourth-down situations in the fourth quarter and you got off the field. What did that mean for this defense?
VW: I mean, any time you have a fourth-down stop, it’s always huge, no matter who you’re playing against. Playing against Peyton Manning, just trying to get something going. And we knew we had – there were plenty of times on third downs that we just figured we were in four-down territory with the way the game was going, with some wind and stuff like that, just knowing the situation. Any time you can go on the field and come up and get the offense the ball back against Peyton Manning or anybody on fourth down, that’s a huge stop. It’s like a turnover. We did a good job of that tonight and we just executed better. We executed well. We were more consistent in what we did. Everybody understood what we were doing and we didn’t have too many problems, so it allowed us to play fast and aggressive. We’re going to need more of that this year.
Q: I know it’s different week to week, but what are you maybe doing now that you weren’t doing a few weeks ago. I know you mentioned execution.
VW: Consistency. That’s the number one thing and communication. We can go back and look at every game we played and every time that we did something negative, if it was penalties, it was out of gaps, whatever it may be – it just cost us. Being able to play the run well on one down and turn around and play it crappy three more times and it was the same run. It was just being inconsistent. So I think the more consistent we get, the better we’ll be as a defense. The more we’ll play together, the more we’ll trust one another, the better this defense will be. So communication and being able to be consistent – I think that’s probably the main two things that will help us out.
Q: A number of guys who haven’t see a ton of playing time like Akeem Ayers, Malcolm Butler,Alan Branch – how important was it for those guys to step up and contribute?
VW: This week was a great week for all of us. Once we got the game plan and we kind of figured out what we needed to do… we practiced with noise. Bill made it as realistic as possible for us and we had to force ourselves to communicate in practice. Everybody came to work ready to work and focused. That’s one thing we don’t lack. We don’t [have] guys that come in just to be here. When you’re here, we’re learning, we’re getting what we need to get done, go on the field, do it, come inside, make the corrections and see how it looks. Throw stuff out if we need to, keep stuff, add stuff. So my hat goes off to this team. We did a lot of things tonight. A lot of things we haven’t done in the pas.t it was something different for all of us. We did it and we did it well. Any time that you can practice well… and the main goal is to bring it Sundays and game days and that’s what we did tonight. We practiced well and we brought it to the game.
Q: You guys have played very well defensively the last couple games, but is this more of a confidence builder to shut these guys down?
VW: Not really. We knew if we executed well how the game could turn out, so we weren’t surprised about it. It’s not a confidence builder. Like I said, you take all the games that we played, the ones we won and lost, we could do some things better and you’d be looking at a totally different team and a totally different defense. It wasn’t about Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, it was about making sure we know what we’re doing, understanding the situations that we’re in – we just happened to be playing Peyton Manning and the Broncos – the best team in the league. We executed well, that’s what we did tonight. We executed well and it showed tonight.
Q: You guys have a history of playing very well in these tough-weather, snowy, windy games. What is it about you guys and bad weather?
VW: We prepare for everything. I think Bill [Belichick] does a really good job of just practicing through whatever we get. Sometimes we’ll be upset going in snow on the practice field: ‘Why can’t we go in the bubble where it’s nice and warm?’ But it pays off for us. It’s paid off for us ever since I’ve been here, before I was here, so we continue to do it because the more we can play in the condition that we may get, the better I think the team will be and it’s proven. It’s just one of those things that whatever it is, we’re going to deal with it. If it’s on game day or in practice, we’re out there in it. Unless it’s lightning and thundering then he might take us into the bubble, but for the most part, we’re on the field playing in whatever it may be.
Q: How important is it for your secondary to play physical like they did today? A guy like Brandon Browner who brings some swagger back there and Devin McCourty is physical too, and they were hitting.
VW: That’s one of the things we want to do: we want to be a physical team. We want to play aggressive. And when we do that, we’re successful. When we don’t do it we let teams off the hook and it’s not good defense, because we’re built a certain way and we have guys that can play that way. To have Browner back there, to have Devin and all those guys back there, or to have whoever it may be on the defense, when we’re playing aggressive and we’re playing up to who we are, physical, we’re a real tough team, we’re a tough defense. It’s one of the things, once again, going forward that we just have to reiterate: That’s how we want to play the game. That’s how we need to play the game. We did it tonight and were successful with it.
(On trying to plan for Peyton Manning)
“It didn’t take Peyton too long to figure out what we were trying to do. I think it was the third or fourth series when he got it going a little bit. We felt that we just had to hold up and get the ball back to our offense as many times as possible.”
(On Denver’s offensive strategy)
“The crossing routes, over routes. They were trying to high/low us a lot. We tried to mix it up [and go] man zone. It’s a chess match out there. We figured we were in the zone [coverage] and he was trying to high/low us and it’s about us getting disciplined within our drops.”
(On the multiple third and fourth down stands)
“We had a great bend but don’t break mentality. They were moving the ball downfield on a couple drives on us, but we did a great job on a few of those fourth down stops. That’s like turning the ball over. Like I said, if we can get it back to [Tom] Brady and those guys, that’s a win for us.”
(On playing against Peyton Manning for the first time in his career)
“You’ve got to be ready anytime you get the opportunity to play and I just went out and did the best I could do for my teammates.”
(On if the game lived up to the hype of the Broncos-Patriots matchups)
“I just came out and played ball. I just go with the flow and cherish every moment. That was a good group of guys we played against and we just had the upper-edge and used the momentum and took off with it and kept going.”
(On covering Emmanuel Sanders)
“Fast guy. Pretty fast guy. Good competitor, but you know, I just had to come out and play my game and do everything to help my teammates and everything fell into place.”
(On playing with emotion)
“I’m just letting you know I’m here to play and letting my teammates know they can depend on me. I’m just playing ball and having fun.”
(On playing in front of the home crowd in big games)
“The crowd, the fans are a big part of the game. They are going to give us good momentum and good energy and you’ve got to use that to your advantage.”
(On knowing Peyton Manning is targeting you)
“I knew he was going to come after me. New number, new face – just got to be ready for things like that. You got to know he’s going to come after you and just be ready.”
(On making his Patriots debut)
“It feels great. Huge win against a really good team and one of the best, if not the greatest, quarterbacks of all time. It’s an unbelievable game that we played. It was all three phases that came together and was my second win of the year, so that’s pretty good.”
(On going from Tampa Bay to New England and on a team in a playoff hunt)
“We all, as human beings, aspire to win and it’s natural for us to lose and not be at our best after the loss. It’s a tough 24 hours when you lose. When you win it’s fine. The tough part about winning is forgetting about how good you did and moving on to the next week. Losing is tough and in Tampa, we lost bad a couple of times, and I was part of those losses. Being on a winning team, I had won some games in New Orleans; I’m just looking to help out as much as possible with whatever I can do here.”
(On if the game met his expectations of the Broncos-Patriots rivalry)
“It did. I didn’t even know; the trade kind of happened so sudden. I was at work that day. I got my lift in, I watched the film from the game and I was ready to participate the next day as a Buc. Calls start coming in and I said, ‘OK, I’m going to New England.’ My dad called and said, ‘Hey, I heard you were going to New England.’ He probably found out before I did. Then he goes, ‘You know you got Denver this week?’ And I go, ‘Holy crap.’ The mindset is get in; I flew in that night, which was Tuesday, and got to work Wednesday morning and have been trying to put as much OT as possible to get caught up and I think I did a pretty decent job at it.”
(On if he was happy with his performance)
“We’ve got to look at the tape. I know I had a couple of tackles on kickoff. We’ll look at it. It’s pretty good when you can get on the stat sheet, but I think I did an OK job playing with these guys. It’s a great group of guys. You know, I think the special teams is if not one of the best, these best special teams group I’ve ever played with. They play at a high level, so I’m just trying to compete with those guys on every play.”
(On what makes the Patriots so good on special teams)
“I mean, I’ve played against [Matthew] Slater and I’ve always known what he’s been doing just because he’s that good of a player. And then getting here, you’ve got Chris White, Don Jones, Nate Ebner; you know, those guys are making plays left and right, so you’ve got a group like that where everybody is fighting to make plays, it’s not all about Slater. He’s not the only one making plays and that’s when you get a good group; when you don’t know who’s really going to make the play and you’ve got a group of guys that’s hungry to make tackles, hungry to make blocks and basically selling out on every play. I think that’s what you have here.”