1 DENVER BRONCOS HEAD COACH MIKE SHANAHAN General opening comments: I m really proud of our football team. We had a chance early; the first couple drives to get things going. We had a couple dropped balls when guys were open. All of a sudden we couldn t get the momentum going. I believe it was four series we went three-and-out. In the second half, to make mistakes like we did, and to overcome it, there is a lot of character on our football team to overcome some of those mistakes that we made. I though defensively, we stepped up and played pretty consistent the whole game. (Carolina) is a very talented team in both sides of the football, and it s always nice to have a game like that and find a way to win. Obviously, Reuben Droughns, there is not enough accolades to talk about him. He played a great game; he seemed to get stronger as the game went on. He broke a number f tackles in there, and it s nice to see a guy like that step up when given the opportunity. On whether offensive line of Reuben Droughns is due credit for the success of the running game The only way you run the ball in the National Football League is with a lot of guys working together. We have not been as successful as we like in the running game, except for the first game of the season. We knew we had to step it up against a defense that is an excellent defensive team. People say they are (ranked) 28 th against the rush, that s because they average 13th. People feel like they have to run against them because they can t pass against them. It s really a credit to their defensive team and their defensive structure. It s a combination of a lot of things. I thought Reuben ran extremely well. I m really proud of our offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers, because to have that many yards in the National Football League there has to be a lot of people working together. On if Reuben Droughns will be the starting running back next week You guys will have to follow us through the week, and we ll see who gets (the position) next week. It s really nice to have a guy step up like that and get the job done. We have talked about this before. When you give a guy an opportunity you re hoping he takes advantage of it. That has happened with a lot of guys on our football team, and we have had a lot of success through the years. Reuben obviously took advantage of it today. On Rod Smith s chase down hustle play It s really a credit to Rod Smith to give that type of effort when it looks like there is no chance for anybody to catch (Julius Peppers). (The officials) made the right call, but regardless of what the call was, for a guy to (make the tackle) just shows you the character of Rod Smith. It also shows you the character of our football team. To make as many mistakes as we did in the third quarter and all of a sudden overcome that with some tough field position speaks volumes. Hopefully we can just keep on working and getting better, start eliminating those mistakes. If we do that, we can put some points on the board early and avoid those heart-stoppers at the end of the game. On fourth-and-goal play I usually go for it, and sometimes it doesn t work out. I m a gambler, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn t. On performance of TE s They did a great job. When you are running down on players, and anytime you get as many (running backs) down as we had, we had to do something in a different package to utilize our tight ends a little bit. I though Dwayne (Carswell), Patrick (Hape), and Jeb (Putzier) really did a good job of coming in and filling up the fullback position. When we did go to two backs, I though Kyle (Johnson) did a great job of stepping up and playing as we hoped he would do, with never really having the opportunity to play in the National Football League. A number of guys stepped up that really have not been given the opportunity in the past, and found a way to win the game. On injury to Panthers RB DeShaun Foster They only had three back coming into the game, so I can t imagine it could have helped them. Anytime you have two tailbacks and one fullback, and your tailback goes down, it limits the things you can do. He is an excellent back. We have done that a few times this year; we ve gone in with three backs, so you have to improvise. On decision to deactivate RB Quentin Griffin I thought he would have a god chance to at least dress-out today. He worked out before the game and he said he was ready to go. I said, How do you feel when you cut? He said that he feels 95 percent. So when you don t get any reps during the week and just a few reps on Friday, 95 percent is not good enough. We will let him (Quentin) heal up a little bit
2 and get ready for the Raiders, but we were going in the other direction. It s really hard to play guys that don t get reps during the week, and it s nice for those guys that do get to practice to step up and get the job done. On Carolina unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the 4 th quarter To be honest with you I didn t know what it was. That s something in the National Football League that you preach to your players. You have to keep your poise when the going gets tough. A lot of times guys will get a cheap shot and all of a sudden they will retaliate and (the officials) will catch the second guy. You have to put your team first, and sometimes it s tough, and sometimes people lose their emotions. I know I have in the past and I know our players have. It s a learning experience that you go over with your team, and you hope it doesn t happen too many times. On touchdown pass to WR Ashley Lelie We had go routes, and that is your first route, but sometimes you may get too deep for a coverage. (Ashley) was our primary receiver. We got a three-deep look, and that s why we had the chance to go deep. On possible fourth down situation if Lelie touchdown was incomplete I was contemplating it right there. I wasn t sure if I wanted to back (the Panthers) up. There was plenty of time to back them up; I m not sure what my decision would have been. On expectations of running game I can t say going into the game that anybody would carry the ball 30-times, especially when Tatum (Bell) carried the ball a few times. You re never really sure how many carries you are going to get. (Reuben Droughns) was a little winded, rightfully so. I thought Tatum got some experience today, he didn t get as many carries, but he got the chance to play a little bit, which is always nice for a young guy. On injury to CB Willie Middlebrooks I m not sure how serious it is. I think it was a hamstring, I m not sure. (Head trainer Steve Antonopulos) tells me the guy is out, and I don t worry about the injury until after the game. He was out enough so that he couldn t come back in, so hopefully it s not too bad. DENVER BRONCOS PLAYERS WR ASHLEY LELIE On his Touchdown: It was third-and-long, and somebody needed to make a play. Coach [Mike Shanahan] put us on goroutes, and I got down there even with his [Panther CB Ricky Manning s] great coverage. [QB] Jake [Plummer] threw an outstanding ball and put it in the only place it could be for a touchdown. It was great coverage, but I knew I just had to make the play. It was him versus me, and fortunately, Jake made the throw where I could get it. On his Performance this Season: I just need to stay motivated and consistent, last year I did not do that. If I can remain hungry and consistent, then I will be able to do a lot of big things to help us out. WR ROD SMITH General: We almost gave it away, but we didn t. As a group, overall, we needed plays and we definitely got that on offense, special teams, and defense. I ve seen a lot of prettier games that we lost, and I ve also seen uglier ones that we won. But what matters is that we came together as a collective unit today and got it done. On Ashley Lelie: He expects to make big plays. He has to, because I m always in his ear. He knows what he has to do, and he did it today. I just love seeing a guy take advantage [of his opportunities]. I did it when I was young, and it s great to see him do it. We have guys that are hungry. We re in a hunt, and it s great to see guys step up and come together like we did. On his Chase-Down: I will never quit, and these guys know it. That play was just a basic example. I don t care if the guy was down or not. That s what these guys expect from me and I will never let them down. CB CHAMP BAILEY On Rod Smith s Chase-Down: Man, that was amazing, especially at this altitude. That was definitely a gutsy play. I can t believe he got down there. You really can t put into words what that meant. You see a guy who s like in his 15 th year [exaggerating], and it s just amazing to see a guy run like that and chase the guy down.
3 General: It was a hard-fought game. These guys [Carolina] came out here and made plays, but we made more and fortunately, came out on top. It would be nice to be 5-0, but we can t look back to that game [a loss at Jacksonville], we just have to look forward and keep on rolling. S JOHN LYNCH On RB Reuben Droughns: He s always happy and he s always smiling. And, he deserves to be happy today because not only was that a great effort, it was a gutsy one. You could tell he was playing from here [his heart]. On Strong Fourth-Quarter Defense: It s starting to be something that we thrive on. When it comes to being the fourth quarter, we know that nothing is going to happen [for the opposing offense], and that we are going to get the ball back for offense so that we can run the clock down. We are playing at a high, high level. We ve got something special here and we just need to keep on going. We have a high standard, and we always think that we could have done a lot better, so that s what makes this defense great. CB KELLY HERNDON On Reuben Droughns: We practice against Reuben Droughns every day. We know what type of runner he is hardnosed and downhill. It s great when guys get opportunities like that and they shine. But I am not surprised to see him take advantage of it like he did. I ve always known what he can do. General: That s how you get the wins, when both sides of the ball work together and pick up the slack if one is struggling. It s a good feeling to know we re close like that, and that we can rely on each other to get it done. QB JAKE PLUMMER On Reuben Droughns: He was awesome today. He was getting contact yards downfield and still running through guys. I knew that he would do well, but I didn t know it would be 190-some yards. It s punishing the defense [to be able to run the ball like that]. We wore them down and they were a little tired at the end. On Improving Offensive Production: We are still winning and finding a way to win, and that s on account of our defense. We [the offense] are working hard, and we are going to get better, and it all starts with me. We feel good. To be 4-1 and know that we can play better on offense is a good feeling. On his Pat Tillman Helmet Sticker: I m expecting to be fined. I was kind of upset [when the league asked that it be removed]. I want to keep honoring Pat forever. I m going to ask people to pony up and donate to the Pat Tillman Foundation. I am going to be a man and pay the fine. I wore the sticker, and I felt it was the right thing to do. RB REUBEN DROUGHNS On the Crowd of Reporters Around his Podium God, this feels weird! On If he Thought he would be the Center of Attention after the Game Not at all, the rest of the guys played so well, obviously Jake [Plummer] threw up some big balls and everything, and Ahley Lelie, guys like that should be up here instead of me. It s been a long time. When I was in Detroit they gave me a couple opportunities, but they weren t the opportunities that I wanted. Once I got here I knew that this is my home and this is the same type of offense that I m used to running in since [University of] Oregon. It s a zone-type of running and everything, so once I got here I felt like this is my home. It felt good to be recognized and my hands are up to the fans because they stuck with us. Nobody left and everybody knew that we were going to pull it out somehow. Do you Consider yourself a Fullback or a Running Back I enjoy doing both. Anytime it seems like there is somebody better than me at the running back position, obviously, I don t mind blocking for them because obviously there are a lot more talented guys than I am. RB Quentin Griffin, Clinton Portis, Mike Anderson, obviously those guys are really talented running backs. I don t mind going out there and blocking for them as long as they can get the 100- and 200-yard games. I ve always believed that I can still play running back down deep inside, and obviously it just takes an opportunity. Once you get that opportunity, you just got to try to take advantage of it the best way you can.
4 On Facing a Tough Defense We knew that we had to get all phases of the game going. We knew coming into the game that we were going to pound on a great defense and when you pound great defenses, that s what they do, they kind of slow it down in the fourth quarter. On his Running Style I m more of a downhill type of runner. Obviously I don t have the shape like Q [Griffin] does. I m going to try to get as much as I can get going downhill. On Defeating the Panthers Tired, but I m excited at the same time. The guys played so well. I mean, those guys are really good, they were in the Super Bowl last year, so that was really a big win. CAROLINA PANTHERS HEAD COACH JOHN FOX On the John Kasay Field Goal that was called back: Apparently there was a flag thrown that hit Matt Willig and he threw it back. It was a boneheaded play on his part. It was something he shouldn t have done and he knows it. It was in the heat of the moment and he made a mistake. He told his teammates that but it doesn t bring back the field position. On the Panthers run defense: It was very shoddy. They averaged over six yards a carry. It s something we re going to have to work very hard at. Right now it s hard to point any fingers just because I have not seen the tape. Up until today I felt it was the matter of people running the ball a lot at us. I wasn t overly concerned. Today was a matter of feeling that giving up five yards was a great accomplishment. We have to get better than that. On Stephen Davis not being able to play: Stephen felt good about (being able to play) both yesterday and today in the workout. He wasn t 100% cutting off of that knee. I d rather be on the side of caution and not risk further injury. On DeShaun Foster: He has a broken clavicle. He ll be out an extended amount of time. I don t know how long exactly yet. Hopefully we ll be able to get Stephen Davis back next week but right now we re thin at (running back) with the Rod Smart injury. On the Ashley Lelie challenge: It looked like (Lelie) had some bobbling going on as he went over there. I thought it was worth a challenge but apparently it wasn t. I didn t get the chance to see the replay. On Julius Peppers: I thought he kept us in the game. Those two interceptions were huge plays and it gave us an opportunity to win the game. Unfortunately we came up short. CAROLINA PANTHER PLAYERS QB Jake Delhomme GENERAL Any loss is a bad loss. That kind of puts us in a tough position. They re a good football team, don t get me wrong, but they did a good job of keeping the ball away from us. It s frustrating because we know we have a decent team. There are a lot of games left, and hopefully I m not saying the same thing over and over again. ON INJURIES TO RUNNING BACKS We feel confident in Nick (Goings) and Brad (Hoover) to come in and do a good job. If I remember, I think we scored on the drive that DeShaun got hurt, or maybe the one after that, I m not sure. Certainly it hurts to have your top two running backs out, but other guys have to step in and do the job. ON FIELD GOAL WIPED OUT DUE TO PENALTIES It s certainly disappointing. It s especially frustrating because John Kasay made it, and who knows what would have happened after that. I m sure it s tough for Matt (Willig), I m sure he wishes he could have that back. Not one play cost us the game, but certainly we would like to have that one back.
5 ON DENVER S CHAMP BAILEY We threw it at him a couple of times, but our game plan wasn t to stay away from him. He did a good job on Moose (Muhsin Muhammad), but we just took what the defense gave us. I m not denying that he is a great player, because he certainly is, but throwing at him or not throwing at him was not part of the game plan. RB DeShaun Foster ON HIS INJURY This stuff happens, but we have some other guys who are going to step up and play hard. We just have to keep it going. I was running to the left side and just fell down on it. I think it was the ground when I hit it. I m not sure exactly what s wrong with it, we ll find out (Monday). I thought it was a stinger at first, but soon after I could feel that it wasn t. CB Ricky Manning, Jr. ON FIELD GOAL WIPED OUT It s pretty frustrating, but we still had a lot of time on the clock (6:42). We felt we had a chance to stop them but we didn t. Matt (Willig) apologized to the whole team, he knew he made a mistake. It s not like Matt to make mental mistakes like that. He apologized, took full credit for it, but it wasn t one play that lost this game. Matt didn t lose this game for us. ON REUBEN DROUGHNS He had a great day. He ran the ball hard, broke a lot of tackles, and I give a lot of credit to him. But we have to tackle better, we have to close some of those gaps and tackle a little bit better no, a lot better. S Mike Minter ON DROUGHNS & DENVER RUNNING GAME Any time someone is pounding the ball down your throat, it makes for a long day a guy who s never started in this league runs for a hundred-and-something yards (193); that s just ridiculous and we have to do better than that. DID HE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT DROUGHNS Nothing. We knew he was a fullback and ran hard on kickoff returns. We watched a lot of film on him and knew that he was tough. We knew he was hard to tackle, he s a fullback. He did a great job today. It seemed like he was getting into the secondary on every single play. We ve got to be more physical stopping the run. We have to start with that. We were in the right calls, we re just not executing. Our offense played well, they did what they had to do. But we can t give up 20 points because we didn t feel like we should give up 20 points. DE Julius Peppers ON HIS INTERCEPTION AND 101-YARD RETURN We got good pressure on the weak side. I saw it the whole way and had a good break on it. I wasn t really worried about how far the goal line was; I guess I should have been. I was more worried about getting caught from behind. It was a long run, and I just gave out the last few stops.
6 POSTGAME NOTES Denver 20, Carolina 17! Denver now leads the series with Carolina by 2-0; the only other meeting was in 1997 (a 34-0 Denver win); the Panthers second quarter touchdown snapped a five-quarter scoreless string against the Broncos.! Denver is now 4-1 for the third straight year and for the fourth time in Mike Shanahan s 10 seasons as head coach. The Broncos are in the first five games combined over the 10 years, a 68.0 winning percentage; the best fivegame starts under Shanahan were 5-0 runs in 1997 and 1998.! RB Reuben Droughns ( rushing; 4-18, 1 td receiving). --All 30 of his carries gained at least 1 yard (22 gained 3-plus yards, 19 gained 4-plus, and 13 gained 6-plus yards) --By Carry: 9, 8, 2, 32 (QTR) 1, 4, 4, 2, 15, 21 (HALF) 6, 7, 8, 4, 3, 2, 8, 5 (QTR) 6, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 6, 1, 12, 5, 3, 6 (GAME) --By Quarter: 4-51 (1st), 6-47 (2nd), 8-43 (3rd), (4th). By Half: (1st), (2nd). --Droughns earned 10 first downs in the game (8 rushing, 2 receiving). --Coming into the game, he had 10 carries for 30 yards on the season, 20 for 55 in his Bronco career, and 50 for 127 in his NFL career. --It was the ninth most rushing yards by a Bronco in a single regular season game, and the 10th most in any game, including playoffs (the most by a Bronco player in a first start at running back): 251 Mike Anderson (at New Orleans, 12/03/00) 228 Clinton Portis (vs. Arizona, 12/29/02) 218 Clinton Portis (vs. Kansas City, 12/07/03) 215 Terrell Davis (vs. Cincinnati, 9/21/97) 208 Terrell Davis (at Seattle, 10/11/98) 207 Terrell Davis (at Buffalo, 10/26/97 OT) 199 *Terrell Davis (vs. Miami, 1/09/99) 195 Mike Anderson (at Seattle, 11/26/00) 194 Terrell Davis (vs. Baltimore, 10/20/96) 193 Reuben Droughns (vs. Carolina, 10/10/04) 191 Terrell Davis (vs. Dallas, 9/13/98) (* denotes playoff game.)! Denver allowed just 44 yards in the fourth quarter, and in five games this year, has allowed opponents just 138 yards in the period, and NFL-best 27.6 yards for the period). Carolina had 23 of those yards on one play, as Denver limited the Panthers to just eight plays and 4:00 of possession time in the quarter.! PK Jason Elam. Today he became just the 16th player in NFL history to make 300 career field goals.! QB Jake Plummer. This was his 24th career game-winning or game-tying fourth quarter comeback. In addition, it was his 19th pure comeback victory; since 1995, that is the most of any active quarterback; Peyton Manning is next with 17.! The Droughns & Smith Show. On Denver s late first half touchdown drive, RB Reuben Droughns and WR Rod Smith accounted for all 76 yards on the 7-play drive. Droughns rushed twice for 36 yards and caught the 5-yard touchdown pass, while Smith caught two passes for 35 yards (the other two plays were incomplete passes). (Smith also caught a pass for the 81st consecutive game this afternoon.)! Julius Pepper s 101-yard interception return was the longest non-scoring interception return in NFL history.! Carolina Rushing. Denver held Carolina to three yards or less on 17 of its 26 rushing attempts, as the Panthers had just one double-figure gain (10 yards by Brad Hoover), and just five of five or longer (the 10-yarder and four 5-yard runs).