During Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, there was one play in particular that stood out and had everyone buzzing throughout the rest of the afternoon and on into Monday morning. As Peyton Manning hit DeMaryius Thomas on a crossing route in the second quarter, Wes Welker was seen attempting to engage in somewhat of a “pick” on cornerback Aqib Talib.
The problem was, that Welker looked to deliberately deliver a hit on Talib without doing much to contribute elsewhere on the play — i.e. look to run a route or get open for his quarterback.
Following the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened up a bit more than we’re used to seeing when asked about the hit on Talib.
I was asked about the hit on Talib. I feel badly for Aqib, for how the play turned out. I went back and watched it, which I didn’t have a chance to do yesterday. It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open, and I’ll let the league handle the discipline on the play. It’s not for me to decide, but it was one of the worst plays I’ve seen. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Normally, Belichick is pretty short and often snarky with reporters. But, on this day, he decided to let loose — and justifiably so.
When re-watching the play, it is hard not to agree with Belichick’s point of view. Welker did not look like he was attempting to get open on the play, or even run a committed route. He knew where he was going, where he was running and delivered a hit. Unfortunately for New England, there was no flag thrown either.
There is a lot to be said about a guy who left New England, in a rather sour fashion, committing a hit like the one he delivered on Sunday. Was he playing with a little more of an edge due to the Patriots letting him go to Denver? Was he playing with more emotion, and dare I say, anger?
There is no telling what would have happened if Talib had been able to play the rest of the game. Of course, Manning was shredding the Patriots’ defense regardless. But, nonetheless, Belichick’s sentiments were valid and I completely agree with his stance on the hit.