ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Failure still is fresh in Wes Welker's mind.
On the biggest NFL stage, he and the Patriots had fallen short. Twice. And the sting of those single-digit losses to the Giants (in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI) still lingers.
They "no doubt" were the most painful losses of his career, and for that reason, they still drive him. Welker is determined not to fall short this time with the Denver Broncos.
"I think it's the reason I get up in the morning in the offseasons, even now," the wide receiver said Friday of his Super Bowl defeats. "We're close again and just trying to make the most of it."
In his first group interview since Sunday's AFC Championship Game win over the Patriots, Welker sidestepped the controversy that began with his hard pick on New England cornerback Aqib Talib and escalated a day later when Bill Belichick called out his former receiver, terming it "one of the worst plays I've seen." He said Welker deliberately tried to hurt Talib, who left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury.
The league, however, saw things differently and did not fine Welker. "I was never really worried about it," he said.
Welker also didn't seem to care about his former coach's comments. "I don't really have any reaction," he said. "I'm just happy that we won the game and happy about going to the Super Bowl."
(Talib later withdrew from the Pro Bowl, paving the way for Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie to fly to Hawaii.)
Peyton Manning is a large reason that Welker and the Broncos are in the Super Bowl. But the selfless play of several big-name offensive weapons also is a big factor. Denver has five players with at least 10 touchdowns -- Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno and Eric Decker.
"I think throughout this locker room, you've got guys that are very unselfish," said Decker, a wide receiver. "We know what it takes to win. We don't need to talk about it; we need to play about it. And I think that is what has gotten us to this point."
Unlike other teams, you won't find any divas in the Denver wide receivers' room.
"That's just how we are," Welker said. "I think we do a great job of giving each other trash if we ever become like that or anything else . . . Without one guy showing up to a game, it affects the other guys."