"I'd like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Steelers. I thought they played an excellent football game. Anytime you go into somebody's backyard and you beat the first, second and third teams, and you do it throughout the playoffs, you can be very impressed with how they played and how they handled themselves. I take my hat off to them."
On the Broncos Performance:
"Anytime you have four turnovers it's hard to win football games. This is a team game. You do it as a team, offense, defense and special teams – I think we got beat in all areas today."
On QB Jake Plummer's Second Quarter Interception
"We go through the reads and certain progressions, and obviously when there are mistakes made you correct them there, and you're hoping that as the game goes on there are not any more mistakes. But, you'd like to have that one back if you could. I think he [Plummer] was frustrated. Obviously, when you throw interceptions you're frustrated, that's part of the game, and you've got to try to just overcome those mistakes. "
On Pittsburgh's Game Control
"I thought they just did a great job. Anytime they're six-for-seven on third downs in the first half. I think they were four-for-five in the red zone. The way they controlled the tempo of the game…once you did have the ball you had to try to take advantage of it. They did a good job stopping us defensively in the first half. They just played better and coached better than we did. "
On Bringing Pressure on Defense
"Like I said, when you make third downs you control the tempo of the football game, and you can't get them off the field. When you play the way they did, not only on third downs and in the red zone, you're going to be in for a long day, not only against them but against any football team."
On Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger's Performance
"I thought Ben did a great job of throwing the ball out in time. I thought there were some great catches, some great timed routes. You have to really take your hat off to their offense and their wide receivers, they made some big-time plays, with some big pressure, and it kept some drives going."
Decision to Kick a Field Goal instead of Going For a Touchdown [2nd Quarter]
"It was third down and eight or ten, I forgot what it was, but anytime you have a dime defense in there and we were just two yards short from going in the end zone. If we would have made it, it would have been a great call. But we were two yards short. Anytime you have your base personnel on the field, and you're going against a lot of defensive backs, every once in a while you take that chance, and unfortunately we wound up a couple yards short."
On CB Domonique Foxworth's Performance
"We knew they would go after Domonique more than [CB] Champ Bailey. They get paid for a living and might go after a young guy rather than an experienced guy. Domonique has had a heck of a year. He went against a couple of good wide receivers and we put a lot of pressure on him today, and he stepped up and got it done."
Looking Back at this Season
"I told our team I'm very proud of what they've done and how they played. The only teams that are happy at the end of the season are the Super Bowl teams, so you feel horrible about that missed opportunity. You work for that prize, that trophy. Anything short of that is very disappointing. Pittsburgh deserved to win today; they played better than we did. To do what they've done three weeks in a row against three excellent football teams, playing the way they did is really an accomplishment."
On Feeling he had a Good Game Plan for this Game
"I did. In the first half it doesn't take a whole lot. I think we had the ball four times. All of a sudden you have a couple turnovers in there, maybe three times and we threw one right at the end of the first half, and we had one turnover against a team that controls the tempo of the game like they did, and controls the clock, you have to take advantage of once you're in the red zone to get touchdowns. When you have two turnovers, you're playing catch-up for the majority of the day."
On Whether the Interceptions were the Result of Pressure or Mistakes
"That one at halftime was [the result of a mistake] – he [Plummer] thought the corner[back] was going to go into the post route, and he came off and made the play. You're going to have some plays like that, but you have to still work through it. But, I give them credit, we haven't been turning the football over many times this year. We did turn it over, and I'd like to give them some credit as well."
CB DOMONIQUE FOXWORTH
"They made some big plays against a talented [Broncos] defense. We did what we did to get us here, which was blitz and single-coverage. They game-planned very well against us and executed when they had to."
On Receiver Coverage
"I expected them to come at me. [CB] Champ Bailey is across from me and he's a tremendous corner. No one wants to go at Champ, so I'm prepared for that every week. On Disappointment
"Disappointment isn't the right word. I feel bad for the older guys, and some of the guys that may not be here next year. I fully feel like I will be back in this position before my career is up. I feel lucky to have gotten this far in my first year, but we'll be back in this position."
WR ROD SMITH
"This is all you work for. You work to be in this situation and win, and we didn't get it done. It wasn't a great season. The only way it's great is if you go all the way. There's only one team that has a great season, and that's the team holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year. What's the difference…you don't make the playoffs, or you make the playoffs and lose…it's all the same. If you don't win the whole thing, it's a failure. I'm not going to take anything away from them, they played a great game, but this is the way I live my life. If I don't get the prize it's a failure."
On Being Eliminated from the Playoffs
"I know what it feels like to hold the trophy at the end of the season, so anything less than that feels like a failure. This isn't on just one player, on play, or one scheme. We got out played today, and you can't take anything away from them."
On the Steelers' Performance
"It's a long game and each team had opportunities. We didn't take advantage of them, the opportunities, and the Steelers did. They played the way you half to play to win on the road in the playoffs. They deserve to go the Super Bowl."
TE JEB PUTZIER
On Being Eliminated from the Playoffs
"I'm definitely disappointed. All year you work hard to get to the Super Bowl, and we came up one step short. We have a very good team here, and we're proud of what we accomplished."
On Next Season
"Mr. Bowlen and Coach Shanahan do a great job in putting this team together. We've a got a great team this year, and I think we'll have a great team next season. It's disappointing to get this far and then not get into the Super Bowl."
On the Steelers Performance
"You can't get behind on a team like that. They do a great job of running the ball and managing the clock, and they played a great game. It was tough in the beginning to get a rhythm, and we just never could get it going. That's a phenomenal team over there. What they have done in the playoffs against the top three teams in the AFC is amazing. They just beat us today."
S NICK FERGUSON
"The disappointment is always going to be there, and obviously this is going to take awhile before it gets better. We're going to marinate on this one for awhile, and then we'll have to move on."
On the Steelers' Touchdown Pass to WR Hines Ward
"I thought I timed it well, and the ball just stayed up there. It floated around and I was not able to get to it in time. He [QB Ben Roethlisberger] made a great throw and got it in there."
On Homefield Advantage
"It's unbelievable that things like that [losing today] would happen out here. We played so well at home all year, and it was definitely disappointing the way we played today. It was just that type of game where we didn't get breaks. I give a lot of credit to the Steelers and their coaching staff."
On the Steelers' Performance
"They didn't really do anything that surprised us. I think we had an excellent game plan, and we just didn't execute."
On Fan Expectations
"The fans have very high expectations in this area: in Bronco Nation. I don't think this season was necessarily a bust, but obviously we wanted to go all the way."
WR ASHLEY LELIE
"I'm so proud of everybody in this locker room. We kept fighting and played until the final play. We just didn't make plays when we needed to."
On Jake Plummer's Play
"He had a great year, and helped us to be where we are. A lot of media are going to point the finger at him, but this was not Jake's fault."
On Offensive Coordinator Coach Gary Kubiak
"He has helped us all year, and helped me personally since I was a rookie. He's a great leader, and Houston is getting a great coach. My hat is off to Coach Kubiak."
On Aspiring to Return to the AFC Championship
"I think we'll get to this place again, we just have to work hard and good things will happen. Obviously you want to get to the Super Bowl, but we still think this was a great year. There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be back here."
On this Season Overall
"We were 13-3 and we won the [AFC] West. But, 20 years from now when we people look back, no one will remember that we got this far. It's difficult to get to this point and not go all the way."
DE EBENEZER EKUBAN
ON LEARNING FROM THE GAME - "We have to take it and learn from it and when we're in the same position next year, we can play off this and not just in the regular season."
ON STEELERS' THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS – "That really hurt us. I don't know what their percentage was but it felt like 80 percent. During third downs they were just completing those passes and keeping the chains moving, and keeping the clock moving. They put Jerome Bettis in and they kept running out the clock. I guess that is something we still have to work on, it has been giving us troubles all year. So we have to find a way to get three-and-outs."
DE TREVOR PRYCE
GENERAL - "Going in you expect to win or at least play well. You expect to play better than we did. That's a good football team. We knew that going in but they still seemed to keep us off balance. We just couldn't get ourselves going with the blitz. They played an excellent game. I thought our game plan was just top notch. We executed it for the most part. Some times the ball bounces your way and today it bounced their way. The regular season means nothing at this point. Everybody's memory is going to be this game."
LB IAN GOLD
GENERAL - "We did not complete the mission and it's frustrating. Anytime you make it to the AFC Championship game and lose you hope to lose to a team like that. They deserved to win. They came out and totally dominated every facet of the game. They got some turnovers and were able to move the ball on offense. Their defense shut our offense down. When the other team is hitting on all cylinders like that, hats off to them."
ON STEELERS THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS - "That's a credit to them. We didn't execute on defense. We didn't play anywhere close to how we wanted to. Unfortunately, it happened that way and we lost."
SS NICK FERGUSON
ON NEAR INTERCEPTION - "I thought I had the ball to be totally honest. It was just thrown a little bit above my outreached hands. [Roethlisberger] just threw the ball pretty well."
ON OTHER NEAR TURNOVERS - "That's how this game goes. Sometimes it bounces your way and you make that play and that wasn't the situation all last year. We didn't have the ball bounce our way and we had that this year. It just so happens, in this particular game, we didn't get a lot of that. I thought Champ [Bailey] was going to make another spectacular play like he has all year but he didn't he didn't make that play. But, stuff happens."
LB KEITH BURNS
GENERAL – "It kind of reminds me of (the loss to Jacksonville in) 1996. But it is what it is. Pittsburgh came in here and played the perfect game. They did exactly everything they needed to do to win.
ON BEING SURPRISED BY PITTSBURGH'S GAME PLAN – "They did not surprise us at all. We knew what they were going to do coming in here. We knew who they were and exactly what they do with throwing the football and the way they ran. The just made the plays and we didn't. Our hats go off to them."
ON IF THE SEASON WAS A SUCCESS – "No, not at all. Bottom line is that there were a lot of guys who were brought in here to win the Super Bowl. You can pick out a few bright spots on the season, but to me it is a complete failure. Anything less than hoisting that Lombardi Trophy is a failure."
S JOHN LYNCH
ON QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER – "He showed he is a great talent, not only throwing the football, but he ran around out there and made plays as an athlete."
ON THE SEASON'S UPSIDE – "You can't forget all the good that came out of this season. We did some outstanding things. Now all you can do is learn from this and get better."
ON HIS MISSED INTERCEPTION – "We have been thriving off turnovers all year and we just couldn't get anything today."