ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It was a Thursday -- Jan. 3, 2019, to be exact.
Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, then with the Houston Texans, had just emerged from the training room. His lower left leg was encased in a boot, protecting his surgically repaired Achilles tendon.
Thomas had turned 32 on Christmas and was dealing with the second Achilles injury of his career, to go with an increasingly painful hip. But asked about his career in a now-quiet locker room, save for the droning of a vacuum cleaner down the hall, he flashed a smile, leaned his head back and sighed.
"Right there, for me, is 2013, those records, that year," said Thomas, who died in December 2021 of seizure disorder complications. "Super Bowl 50 is special, really special, but 2013 was special in another way, we did something [that's] never been done before because we really didn't worry about nothing other than each other.''
The 2013 Broncos did what no team in the NFL had done before or since. They crossed the 600-point threshold for a season.
The Broncos broke the season scoring record, previously held by the 2007 New England Patriots (589 points), with 606 in 16 games. Quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns -- both records -- and five different Broncos scored at least 10 touchdowns.
They topped 40 points six times and surpassed 50 three times, including in back-to-back games. The 2013 Broncos' 76 touchdowns (two on defense) were 10 more TDs than the 2021 and 2022 Broncos scored combined.
"Ten years go by and maybe you don't think about all of it,'' said then-Broncos receiver Wes Welker, now Miami Dolphins wide receivers coach. "But that was something, you're never going to think you're going to be part of anything like that and I've never seen anything like that.''
Not long after saying that, Welker witnessed his new team attempting to chase history. The Dolphins dropped 70 points on the Broncos on Sunday, the kind of quick-strike explosiveness and spread-it-around scoring it will take to top the current record. With 130 points in their three games, the Dolphins -- who will have 17 contests to achieve a record the 2013 Broncos broke in 16 -- are on pace for 737 points.
Miami's chase could shine some light on a Denver team that is sometimes forgotten. Because those Broncos picked a bad day to have their worst day -- trampled 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII by the Seattle Seahawks, who took the Lombardi Trophy and the Broncos' storybook ending.
Breaking the decade-old record will take a transcendent effort by a magical team. The 2013 Broncos say their record has stood because they possessed the rarest of combinations.
"Unselfish talent, unbelievable ... the coaches, the whole building was unselfish, everybody,'' said Dolphins associate head coach Eric Studesville, who was the Broncos running backs coach in 2013. "They brought something out of Peyton that year, something in him. But you see a list sometimes of great offenses, and man, they don't even know about that team.''
So, as the Dolphins continue the chase, here is a 10-year reunion of an unsung cast of record holders from the greatest season few seem to remember:
No detail was too small for Manning and, with his career clock ticking at age 37, he was driven. Whether it was an impromptu quiz about a blitz pickup, the staccato critique of a wide receiver's route or a takedown of his own work, Manning -- coming off a 37-touchdown, 11-interception performance in his first season with the Broncos in 2012 -- was always trying to bring out the best in himself and his teammates. But the 2013 group meshed with Manning in a unique way, including a Welker-led gag in training camp that reeled in the prank master himself -- Manning.
Welker: Peyton got everybody at some point -- he got [wide receiver Eric] Decker with a fake bill for like three grand when we threw at Duke. ... Or loosening the lids on the water bottles and handing them to guys all the time. We had to return the favor.
Welker: That Sports Illustrated cover deal [in August 2013] was a great one.
Decker: It was Wes who gave us the confidence to do that.
Welker: [Manning] was what, like 36 or 37 at the time, he likes to drink his Bud Lights and maybe that showed on him a bit, and me, D.T. (Demaryius Thomas) and Decker we were all about having our shirts off.
Decker: [Welker] was like we're going to execute this, we're going to do this and D.T. and I were like, "OK, yes, of course we are" [laughing]. It was that bond and it happened fast with us.
Welker: They set it up, the lights and everything, we were there, waiting for him, so we take the shirts off, flexing it up when he walks in and we tell him "Hey, this is what they kind of want for the photo. You know, all of us shirtless, like this, oiled up or whatever."
All of sudden it hits him, his face, man, his face, we so had him. He just gets all riled up, like over the top [in Manning voice] "What, what, what is this a Playgirl shoot? What are we doing? What are we doing?" Just over and over. He was absolutely riled. It was so awesome.
Thomas (in January 2019): Funniest thing ever. That's on Wes. We took those shirts off, we sold it so big, Peyton, he was buying it.
Manning: There were a lot of moments that don't have anything to do with football I think about all the time from that year. But, yeah, Wes' deal [laughs], I think it just summed up there was a little bit of a different vibe we had and, I don't know, it just kind of stayed that way. And I have to say they got me pretty good.
Adam Gase, Broncos offensive coordinator: I was standing right around the corner, listening, because I knew it was going down. I almost fell over, hilarious. But it was those guys, they were so good, so tough, so unselfish, so everything, they could even get Peyton and he loved it.
Welker: Something like that, doesn't seem like much, a fun moment. But you look back and it's a very important thing. We gelled together, no egos, no anything, no divas. ...Probably pretty rare.
Game 1, seven touchdowns
The 2013 season opener was against the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs in 2012 and went on to win the Super Bowl. The Thursday night game was moved to Denver because the Baltimore Orioles had a home game they would not move, despite the NFL's pleas. Banners of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco were hanging in downtown Denver pregame. Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller had just been suspended for the first six games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. And, there was a 33-minute weather delay. After all that, Manning threw for 462 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-27 Broncos victory.
Manning: The opener truly is the unknown. So, no, you don't see something like that coming. And then after the game, you're suddenly looking at all that happened, wondering what you might really have.
Gase: We didn't even score in the first quarter, moving the ball and doing nothing. Then, second quarter, few minutes in, [tight end] Julius [Thomas] scored on a seam [route], and I don't know why, but right then I thought, "Oh, man, it's on." Peyton threw seven [TDs] in three quarters.
John Fox, Broncos head coach: Did I know what was coming? You know, some people say no, but I kind of really did. Peyton didn't play a snap the year before we got him, he was still rehabbing his [neck] injury when we did. I think people kind of forgot that when he did what he did in 2012 -- 37 touchdowns, we go 13-3 -- and I just thought, you could tell he felt a lot better, and his mind, our offense, our guys, you could just tell it had evolved.
Miller: I was trying to reset myself, get right, so I'd be ready to come back and help us. So, I'm sitting there watching that Ravens game and it was crazy, [Demaryius Thomas] went crazy, Peyton went crazy, Julius Thomas went crazy, everyone was going crazy. It was crazy, crazy on top of crazy, with more crazy. ... It just let you know Year 2 of Peyton Manning was going to be something maybe nobody had ever seen.
Decker: I remember having a drop in the end zone [laughs], I should have been on the board there. But we all knew by the end of the third quarter, we were going to be part of history.
Fox: At one point in the game, I was standing there on the sideline, and it just hit me like maybe it hit a lot of people that day, like "Oh s--, this is us. This is really us, this is how we'll play, how we can play." And, we did too.
Gase: The last [touchdown], the seventh one, the Ravens zeroed us [blitzed] and I had called some crap like a max protect ... and I'm sending it in and Peyton looks back at me like 'Are you f--ing kidding me,' and so he called the slip screen to D.T. And that play, I'll always remember how D.T. looked just rocketing down the sideline [76 yards].
Champ Bailey, Broncos defensive back: What they were doing that night, sometimes it looked too easy. Incredible. It introduced what they had been scheming all camp, what I had seen in practice, to everybody else, "Like here it is, good luck.''
The 'value menu'
Demaryius Thomas had 92 catches, 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns -- but the seemingly unexpected collective of the Broncos' offense was its variety. Thomas had six 100-yard games, but five of those came in Week 9 or later. Decker had the group's only four touchdown game -- in Kansas City -- in Week 13. Welker played in 13 regular-season games and had touchdowns in eight of them. Julius Thomas had more touchdowns in the season than any Broncos tight end in franchise history. Knowshon Moreno had one 100-yard rushing game but finished with 1,038 yards, thanks in part to a 224-yard effort against the Patriots. But to create pace when they wanted, to choose when they put the foot to the floor for more touchdowns, they created "the value menu.''
Gase: We just wanted [Manning] and our guys to be able to play fast when we wanted and not have to think, if [Manning] saw something we could just go. ... And clean up the playbooks, we had all this stuff, from [Raiders coach Josh] McDaniels, from [former Chargers coach Mike] McCoy, then from Peyton's first year and it just kind of didn't make sense.
Then we interviewed Jay Norvell for the quarterbacks job [which went to Greg Knapp]. ... Jay and I were talking about playing fast ... and he brought up a good point. He said, 'When you go to McDonald's you don't order a Big Mac, fries and a Coke, you order the No. 3 or whatever.' ... There was a little light that went on, that got us going in a direction. We wanted to get as much terminology out of it as we could and still have as many variations as we could for Peyton to use and we had the perfect set of dudes to do it -- we called it the value menu.
Jay Norvell, Colorado State coach: I'm like the Forrest Gump of football ... but I spent seven years at Oklahoma around Kevin Wilson and when he was at Northwestern, they had a tempo, spread offense. ... In 2008 we broke the NCAA record for scoring at Oklahoma, we had Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray was our running back. We had menus where we could go really fast, numbers on the menus, we could call plays really fast. Just give me the No. 4, the No. 3 or the No. 2 and go real fast and Adam [Gase] was just really open-minded about all that.
Manning: It was kind of the only way we could do all that because those guys were always ready for whatever we came up with, game to game, even series to series.
Decker: Everybody could eat on the value menu and we really didn't care who did. We didn't just say we didn't care, we really didn't care. How could I care if D.T. got a touchdown, it's D.T., or Knowshon, or Julius. We were all like let's just score touchdowns, let's just run people over.
Fox: You can't, and shouldn't, minimize the fact those guys worked their asses off at a whole other level. That was kind of the first year we had GPS tracking. I would track guys and D.T. was one of my main guys because there were thresholds, levels if he hit, he played great, for whatever reason, so I always paid attention. And the data showed each practice period, each drill. ... One day after practice I'm in the staff meeting and I ask [special teams coach] Jeff Rodgers, "Hey, what the hell are you doing with D.T.? He's not even on special teams and he's running like miles." Jeff looks at me, "Foxy, with all due respect, it's not me, Peyton's got all those guys running two-minute routes at like game speed during special teams." Now that was the hard-ass part of Peyton. But if you wanted the ability to go that fast and get the ball, that was where it happened. But I had to have a meeting about Peyton about a little of that.
Miller: Peyton was on fire everywhere, we felt it in practice, we felt it in the meeting rooms and most importantly, we felt it in games. They went crazy fast in practice. Peyton used to race us -- the guys on the other field in walk-throughs -- to try to get done first, get through the script the fastest. In games, it was like he knew the script, he went Plan A to Plan B to Plan C on plays before defense even knew what Plan A was.
Gase: We had a package we called stampede, the first play in it was a run and if we got ... the right look from the defense, [Manning] would be screaming "get on the ball, get on the ball, same play, same play" and then we would run play-action pass and we scored every time. In that record, there's a bunch of stampede.
Fox: We had a point in the year where the telecast had picked up Peyton pounding his fist for the smash route. So, next week in the red area, he does it, pounds his fist, defense jumps around like they know it, all proud, but we didn't run the smash. He sent the slot guy to the post instead of the corner -- touchdown. That's one of about 50 times that year where he did something like that. And those guys were ready for all of it, in the heat of the moment, on the fly. It's like they never, I mean ever, missed an adjustment no matter how fast we went.
Gase: We took some of Peyton's favorite plays and we code worded them. Stuff he liked, a lot of things were like 80s movies, historical things, old players. Warren for Warren Moon was [No.] 1 because that was his number and a couple words for grouping, left, right, three-by-one, two-by-two, whatever. ... We had a package in there -- 'Ludicrous' -- you know (the movie) Spaceballs, ludicrous speed, and sometimes it was.
We started with like five plays on the value menu -- and each of those five had things off of it, Peyton could adjust to what he saw, depending on the code words, then we got to 10, but we got it up to like 19, with all the variations for each of those, on the value menu because all those guys were so f---ing smart.
Norvell: I do remember them setting the record in that last game, seeing they had done it and thinking, man, that's a lot of points in the NFL. ... Never imagined a menu was in there somewhere, no way I ever dreamed that.
'Everything kind of started off with Demaryius'
In some ways 2013 will always be a massive football riddle because there was almost no way to see it coming. Good? Yes. Productive? Yes. But 600 points? Not really. The team had scored 481 the year before, second behind the Patriots' 557. Manning had turned 37 in March and had had four neck surgeries which affected his right arm and right hand. Welker was 32, in the 10th of his 12 NFL seasons, when he arrived in free agency, Demaryius Thomas had been to one Pro Bowl, Decker none and Julius Thomas had played all of two snaps the year before. Yet Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Decker, Welker and Moreno each scored at least 10 touchdowns and the team was held under 30 points three times all season.
Welker: When I was deciding [in free agency] -- our whole thing in New England was beating the Broncos, I know Bill [Belichick] tried to set up the roster after Peyton got to Denver to try and beat the Broncos. And playing with Tom [Brady], you know how important that position is, and to go another place without that would have been so frustrating. I needed to be in a place where somebody knew the game, the intricacies, at that level. It was just good ball. And, oh yeah, D.T., we had D.T., man, he was the athletic outlier. D.T., now he was special.
Manning: Everything kind of started off with Demaryius, start there. See what defense[s] are going to do with him, how are they going to defend him? And then what does it do to everybody else? D.T. was awesome, just awesome. He was a big reason I came out to play here. I didn't know him before I got here, I had seen him as a young player, his first couple years. The size was kind of intriguing, I knew the difference that made to a quarterback. You could just make certain throws to him you just can't make to everybody. High balls, across the middle, back of the end zone, something as simple as a wide receiver screen. ... And he was just rolling that year, for sure.
Gase: So big, so fast, so tough and worked his absolute butt off to get from where he was as a rookie to what he was doing with that group. There were times Peyton would throw a ball to D.T. and I'd ask him when he came off, "What made you throw that?" and Peyton would make a face and be like, "Whatever, man, it's him."
Decker: We [Decker and Thomas] came in together [in the 2010 draft]. He was the firepower. I mean, then, if you're a cover guy and you're looking at him, it's really not fair. He's fast, strong, big, smart, good head on his shoulders, he was everything. We always started with what they were doing against him. A lot of all of our opportunities came because they didn't know what to with him.
Bailey: Just humble greatness. A lot of people may not appreciate how great a player he was because he got hurt later in his career and he wasn't always telling people how good he was ... D.T. made me better every day and I ain't exaggerating, not one bit. I say every day, I mean every day. He doesn't get hurt [hip] later, we're having a whole different conversation about D.T. and where his career fits.
Demaryius Thomas (in January 2019): Grateful Peyton saw something in me. He helped me believe, for sure, and I wanted to do everything right for all those guys -- Peyton, Wes, Deck, Julius, Knowshon, everybody. I didn't want to miss a step, miss a route, drop a ball, nothing. Just being a part of that, we always wanted another touchdown, another win, just keep going. You know, I wish everybody could be in something like that just once.
Studesville: Peyton saw what D.T. could be before D.T. maybe, that relationship, I mean if you ever saw D.T. with Peyton's kids how they reacted to him, couldn't wait to chase him around, jump on him. Peyton saw it all and helped bring it out. Some of the throws he made to D.T., even Peyton would say in meetings, "This is just unbelievable."
'When we were on it ... game over'
When the 2013 season opened just one quarterback in league history had reached 50 passing touchdowns in a season -- Tom Brady in the Patriots' undefeated regular season of 2007. To this day, there are only three 50-touchdown seasons, Brady's, Manning's and Patrick Mahomes' 50 in 2018. After Manning followed his seven-TD effort in the opener with two touchdown passes in a Week 2 win over the Giants -- one of just four games all season he didn't throw at least three. But neither he nor the Broncos' offense ever lost momentum. In all, he had nine games with at least four touchdowns, 12 300-yard games and four 400-yard games. Manning was sitting on 47 touchdowns when the Broncos arrived in Houston in Week 16. Four touchdowns later, he had the record for TDs in a season with a week to play.
Miller: I was surprised that whole year when [the offense] didn't score. Sometimes you know you're going back on the field right away because the offense isn't clicking, but that year we went back right away because they just scored in two plays.
The Broncos started the season by reeling off six victories.
Welker: We scored like 52 on Philly [in Week 4], Peyton had like [six] incompletions, four TDs, we rushed for a ton [141 yards] and then, win by a bunch [52-20].
Decker: [Manning] was just so good, so many times, there weren't that many moments where you thought, "Man, we've got to get it back, get it going." And after Dallas [a 51-48 Broncos win in Week 5], we all just felt like our foot isn't coming off the floor, we're full speed.
Welker: [It was] scoring fest in Dallas, Peyton and [Tony] Romo combine for like 1,000 yards [920 yards] and we win by grinding out the last drive, eating the clock, getting a first down at the ½-yard line so Peyton could take a knee a couple times and we kicked field goal to win [51-48] on last play, right? That showed, even if you lifted yourself, we could lift a little more.
Manning: Did I think we would keep going like that? Well, no, is the answer. You don't know when something like that is going to happen, you don't know about points, records. You're just trying to win games and whatever comes along with it comes along with it. I just didn't want to take a step back, keep pushing forward, I didn't want to leave anything undone.
The Broncos lost only three games all season, the first to Manning's former team, the Indianapolis Colts.
Gase: Indy [in Week 8] is Peyton's first game back there and they're playing video tributes to him before the game, just a weird night -- we fumbled a couple times.
They lost two more, to Brady's Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. Both would be avenged in the playoffs, en route to the Broncos' first Super Bowl appearance of the post-John Elway era.
Gase: New England [in Week 12], we're up 24-0 at f---ing halftime, they come back at us, get the lead, we tie to get to overtime and we muff a punt at our own [13-yard line] to lose.
And San Diego [in Week 15] I felt like I needed to do more there ... I didn't have a good game there, D.T., I needed to get D.T. more involved there. But that's it, man, I remember all those, we got two of them back in the playoffs.
Bailey: Hell, when we go to Houston, [Manning's] almost at the record already [47 touchdowns, 14 games], three touchdowns in two games to get the record. That was like a quarter for those guys. But it's like fast guys when you watch them run, they're so smooth it doesn't look fast. Guys with the veins popping out of their neck when they run, arms flying everywhere usually aren't that fast. That Houston game, Peyton was just a fast guy, he made it look so smooth, boom, boom, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, record.
In Week 17, the Broncos traveled to Oakland and did the thing no other NFL team has done before, breaking the 600-point mark.
Decker: Oakland, that just showed how much it was dialed in by that time. Peyton played only a half and still threw four [touchdowns]. If we would have played that whole game (Broncos led 31-0 at halftime and Manning sat in second half) like it was Week 2 or something, the record would be out there even more. But he made four look easy.
Manning: When we finished that game in Oakland, you did think right away, that all of our guys really did pay the price, they all did sacrifice. Just everybody, our line, tight ends, backs, receivers, coaches, staff, just everybody. They all were so invested in it, they sacrificed for each other. You're kind of thinking about the playoffs and getting ready at that point, but in the back of your mind, you know you were part of something special.
Gase: I don't think anybody in the regular season took our best shot and won, because our best shot, when those guys were on it, when we were on it, was game over.
'We're really going to talk about the Super Bowl?'
The cracks in the Broncos defense were showing, but were perhaps difficult to see amid the wins and touchdowns. Miller had returned from his suspension only to tear his ACL in Week 16,while cornerback Chris Harris Jr. tore his ACL in the divisional round win over San Diego. Backups started all over the defensive formation on Super Sunday. Still, the highest-scoring offense in league history was ready to add the last slice of glory to its legacy. But seven seconds into Super Bowl XLVIII, as Manning stepped toward the line of scrimmage to make an adjustment, Manny Ramirez's snap sailed over his head. Moreno recovered and was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The first domino had fallen. Defense -- Seattle's -- would indeed win a championship.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks coach: The safety was a gift, to me that was an unexpected gift.
Miller: We're really going to talk about the Super Bowl? Damn. That very first play. You don't have seven games to decide it. You get one game, right now, to decide it. That's it. I felt helpless, empty, my knee hurting and I've never forgotten that feeling. When you get ready for any big game, big moment, that if you don't win you might never get back there. All that matters is right now, when it's over, that's it.
Gase: That [Seattle] defense ... they were really good, dude, their players were really good, phenomenal, the speed/quickness power combo up front, a tough task man. Once we got behind, we were in a bad situation.
Carroll: What can I really tell you about all that? [Pause] I think what I'll say is we minimized Peyton's options, we didn't give him the choices, it kind of simplified their attack. ...We played like our hair was on fire and ... we weren't going to fall into the trap and try to outthink Peyton or outsmart him, or chase them around. You weren't going to beat that group that way and everybody who tried to do it that way got torn apart. We were going to try to just outplay him ... and really just knock the s-- out of them as much as we could.''
Decker: Never saw a defense play like that in any other game in my career. The first snap, things didn't go right, but even at half, we're feeling like maybe we can claw back and then [Percy] Harvin takes the second-half kickoff back. We never got our backs off the wall in that one.
Carroll: When we started looking at them, it was obvious they had given [Manning] the reins of an offense that allowed him enough choices, that if he could see something, he would take it apart -- man-to-man, zone, pressure -- if he could see it, he would go after it. So good, so much freedom, so wired. His batting average was high all year that year, incredibly high, that's why it was best offense in history.
Fox: The points get so much attention that year, but if we're being honest, really honest, that was always going to be tough duty on defense for us. Von's out, Chris Harris is out, [Derek] Wolfe is out, Champ [Bailey] struggled all year with injuries, [safety] Rahim [Moore] was out. And we're playing a team that could pound it in the run game, mobile quarterback. Nobody wants to hear it now, but in the moment, I did still think we'd somehow get it done.
Bailey: I'll never forget, first Super Bowl of my career, my only one, and I'm sitting in my locker and I looked across and standing along the wall -- just in their [street] clothes -- is Von Miller, Chris Harris, [defensive tackle] Kevin Vickerson, Derek Wolfe, Rahim Moore. All on defense and they didn't play in that game. I'm 35, coming off injury, I'm not really even a starter any more at that point, or shouldn't be probably, I'm looking at those guys and I'm just like "Well, s--.'''
Manning: I've been on both sides of it, you spend so much effort to get there and when you lose it it's just about as disappointing as you think it can possibly be and that one really was. And when you win it, it's as exhilarating as you thought it would be. But it's what you sign up for, you sign up for all of it.
Welker: Hey, Super Bowl is all or nothing. It's true, maybe it doesn't feel like you finish second when you lose the Super Bowl, it's like you go to the bottom. It feels worse than you could possibly imagine it can feel. Especially that year, with that group.
Fox: Right, wrong or indifferent, that's the league, people will always remember you different if you win the Super Bowl. My wife said it the best, you lose the Super Bowl it's the world's most expensive funeral.
Studesville: I tell people now I think we actually did win a Super Bowl that day, it was just it was [Super Bowl] 50 two years later. We won 50 because of what happened in 48. We learned how not to be, we learned what we had to do.
'I'd be surprised if ours last 20 years'
The NFL has since added a game to the schedule and the ball is in the air more than ever. The Dolphins have the firepower at receiver in Tyreek Hill and an accurate, quick-minded quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. And then there's Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert and rookie De'Von Achane. Nine different Dolphins have already scored touchdowns this season. They will need every playmaker to approach the Broncos' 2013 records.
Decker: Hard to say what you'd need to do it again. A guy like Peyton at his peak, an all-time peak and a bunch of just football players in a system that fit all of us, willing to put in the work every single day. Again, not just say it doesn't matter who gets the ball, but live that way, work that way.
Fox: I've been around a lot of players, a lot of teams. That was just a great group of dudes, all on the same page, all with the same mindset, all talented. ... I sat on the patio with them at Peyton's Hall of Fame party and I had to take a minute, sit quietly and soak it in. Just not many groups like that ... up front in the O-line, catching the ball, running the ball, and a guy like at the peak, and nobody ever bitching about getting the ball or not, everybody knowing every assignment, every adjustment, every time, because they just want to score touchdowns and get wins, unless you have all of that, you're not getting [600 points].
Decker: [Wide receivers coach] Tyke [Tolbert] made all of us a ball -- 606 points, at least 10 touchdowns for five guys. I have that in my gym. Look at it all the time and think of all the things people didn't see. ... That ball is proof I lived out a childhood dream with guys who wanted, really wanted, to help you live out your dreams.
Gase: You know, I didn't appreciate it enough then, I didn't. It pisses me off now that I didn't, that's a lesson. I see lists and top 10s and nowhere to be found, I'm like what the actual f--. Best guys ever, talent, unselfish, smart, tough and could handle everything you gave them -- Peyton, receivers, backs, tight ends, O-line, everybody. I'd always heard stories about groups like that and to see it, work in it, couldn't replicate that. If we could think it, we did it and we did it right.
Studesville: We didn't win it and maybe people don't put that team where they should because we didn't. I get that. ... For me, I will say, I lost my parents that summer [they were killed in a motorcycle accident] and my family is the most important thing, they're everything in the world to me, my wife, my kids. But the people in that building that year, the coaches, the players, the staff, because of who was there, how unselfish they were, what they did, how they did it every day, are a big reason I made it through that. Every coach, every player in this game should be around a group like that, just once, to know what it's like.
Manning: Seventeen games, those records are going to be broken. I don't have many left, those suckers are going down, so you don't think it's going to hold. [Chiefs quarterback Patrick] Mahomes seems like he's probably the one who's going to get it. We'll see. Marino, the Colts broke that record in '04, that lasted 20 years, [Marino] threw 48 in an era you really could hold the receivers -- incredible accomplishment. I'd be surprised if ours last 20 years, but it's there now.