One of the most important plays of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday came in the first quarter when Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker collided with New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib. Welker cracked Talib on a pass over the middle that was intended for Demaryius Thomas. Talib left the game and did not return.
Many questioned the hit and wondered if it was an illegal pick by Welker, but replays showed that Welker actually hit Talib right at the moment the ball hit Thomas’ hands. Bill Belichick did not see it that way, and he uncharacteristically blasted Welker for the play on Monday morning.
“That was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib,” Belichick said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “(Welker made) no attempt to get open. One of the worst plays I’ve seen. I’ll let the league handle discipline on that play. … That’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen.”
As Howe noted, Belichick’s comments came during his opening statements and not in response to a question from a reporter. It’s extremely rare for the Pats coach to talk like that about a specific play or player, so you know he had to have been steaming about it.
Talib held Thomas to just four catches and 41 yards in New England’s 34-31 comeback win over the Broncos in Week 12. After he left Sunday’s game, Thomas abused Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and ended up with seven catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. The loss of Talib was obviously huge for New England’s defense.
As for Welker and Belichick, it is no secret that their relationship deteriorated quickly over the course of the 2012 season. Belichick tried to phase Welker out by starting Julian Edelman over him at the beginning of the season, but injuries resulted in Welker having another monster year. Had the play with Talib involved a different former Patriot, Belichick probably would not have had such a strong reaction.Google+