Aqib Talib suffered rib or knee injury on hit from Wes Welker (GIF)

Aqib Talib Wes WelkerAqib Talib was knocked out of the AFC Championship Game early on after being picked by Wes Welker on a crossing route the Denver Broncos ran in the second quarter, costing the New England Patriots one of their key defensive stars.

The Broncos ran several short drags and crossing routes early in the game and used their receivers to pick off New England’s defensive backs. On the play in question, Welker collided with Talib, knocking the Pats cornerback out of the game.

Talib was taken to the locker room for examination and later returned to the team’s sideline, though he did not go back into the game. The injury was initially said to be a rib injury, but the Patriots later said it was a knee injury. Whatever the case, the Patriots were without their best defensive stopper, which left them extremely vulnerable against Denver’s stellar passing game.

[Related: Bill Belichick rips Wes Welker for hit on Aqib Talib]

Many people were wondering whether Welker’s hit on Talib was legal, and FOX NFL rules guru Mike Pereira explained that it was.

The Broncos were expected to move the ball whether Talib was in the game or not, but it certainly hurt New England being without him.

GIF via The Big Lead

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  • whitetiger

    I think it was a dirty hit as it looked like welker went right after him. but denver has done that all year and no calls. I saw them do it at least 3 times in the first half yet on one the pats were called for holding

  • heykyleinsf

    That’s rich.

    If any team in the history of sports gets zebra charity..
    It’s clearly the Pats.
    You might have seen in that game alone..
    the ridiculous no-call PI on Julius Thomas that negated
    what would have been the game’s first TD.
    The Broncos gained 3 times the yards and first downs..
    yet Patriots are crying and whining over being cheated??

    Yes.. Welker was doing a pick.. just like every team in the league does.. But looking at that, how was that dirty in any way and how was it in the most remote way malicious as a way to “take him out”?
    No grace, no class, no humility.. you fans deserve what you get with Bellichick as your video taping, referee palm-greasing coach.

  • The Dog

    100% legal hit! Welker was simply blocking Talib since he was covering Thomas. Find something else to whine about. The Patty’s dominance is over!!!

  • Landsnark

    Blocking before the ball gets there is a penalty. But you already knew that.

  • heykyleinsf

    it’s a contact sport. Talib could have tried to get in the way.. If there is a penalty.. it’s on Talib as much as it it on Welker for obstructing his route.

  • Landsnark

    In backyard football you would be correct, in the NFL it is written up as an offensive player blocking down field. The purpose of the play is to create space between the WR and the DB covering him by preventing him from following his assigned receiver. If Talib had hit Welker while he was the primary target it would have been pass interference, but the league is geared towards scoring points and offenses are rarely called for the penalty. That is why teams like the Patriots and the Broncos used the play all of the time, safe in the knowledge that the ref’s are unlikely to call the penalty.

  • Whiteeagle

    Wow ! What Are The Patriots ‘Crying’ About Now !!??

  • Christian Gannon

    Didn’t the Pats master the downfield moving screen play back in 2001? This does not look deliberate to me, but rather two Denver receivers in same area leading to congestion and contact when ball is thrown into that area. Pats go cry me a river; worst losers ever. No one cares that Brady is not watching the SuperBowl. Probably have a girls day out with Gissy getting his toenails painted and hair permed.

  • fupollard

    All u idiot Denver fans it is an obvious illegal hit that is EARLY and an attempt to INJURE Pats ONLY DB that is capable of covering the opponent’s top receiver. It was NOT LEGAL HIT and should have been called as it is clear that Welker is preparing himself for the hit by turning to his side. I just wish it would have backfired on him and he got injured as well — the little prick!