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Broncos on mission after last year's playoff flop

Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard talks with reporters.

Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard talks with reporters. (Jan. 26, 2014) Credit: AP

JERSEY CITY - The Broncos arrived in style Sunday, dressed to the nines in designer suits and smiling broadly aboard a cruise ship docked in the Hudson River.

All of their hard work and preparation has led them here to face the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. And the Broncos are determined not to leave New Jersey without a "W.''

In his only news conference this past week in Denver, Peyton Manning made sure to keep his answers clipped and to the point. But aboard the Cornucopia Majesty, the superstar quarterback was engaging and chatty, filling reporters' notebooks with one anecdote after another.

"Our team is excited,'' Manning said. "We've worked hard to earn this opportunity. We couldn't be more excited. The Super Bowl, it's a big deal. I know how hard it is to get here. I know how much time and sacrifice our team has made in order to have this opportunity to play in this game. So we were excited to get on that plane, we were excited getting off that plane, and we are looking forward to being here all week and, hopefully, playing a good game next Sunday.''

The Broncos' quest for the Super Bowl began long before their high-octane offense put up record-breaking numbers this season. It began a year ago, right after they lost in double overtime -- at home -- to the eventual champion Ravens in the AFC divisional round.

That, the Broncos said, was the impetus for change -- a change in attitude heading into the offseason and beyond.

"There was definitely a different sense of urgency going in to OTAs and starting offseason training,'' 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey said. "You could tell that everybody was a little more focused than the year before. That's really what you want going into workouts. You want everybody on the same page from day one.

"Here's our finished product: We're in the Super Bowl, just because guys really homed in on what they had to do.''

That devastating loss sparked a burning desire within them -- and it hasn't been extinguished, coach John Fox said.

"There's no doubt it's been a journey,'' Fox said. "It kind of started there. We had finished the season pretty strong a year ago. Very disappointed in the loss at home.

"We worked very hard in the regular season to be the number one seed. I would say that it was a fire in everybody's belly, the whole offseason, as we went through preseason and, really, as we started this season.

"It's been a pretty tough mind-set football team, and we're excited about this opportunity.''

Super Bowl XLVIII will pit the NFL's best offense against Seattle's No. 1 defense. And this time the Broncos are determined to end their season with a win -- and a Lombardi Trophy.

"It was extremely tough to see us lose that game and not finish,'' linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "And that's something that we always hit on: Let's finish the game and let's make sure the outcome is the outcome that we want to see.

"So it definitely pushed us to get to this point, and it was something that was on my mind and my teammates' minds the whole season.''

New York Sports