As I have stated in various articles, the New England Patriots did not play well in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. It was an all around poor effort. There is one play in particular that everyone wants to talk about — the hit Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker put on Patriots DB Aqib Talib. There is a good chance the Patriots would have lost the game anyway, but it was a huge blow to lose Talib in the second quarter. Talib can cover an opposing team’s top wide receiver one-on-one. When he left the game the Patriots’ defensive strategy had to change dramatically.
I don’t know if Welker meant to injure Talib, but it was a cheap and dirty hit, so I agree with Bill Belichick‘s comments:
“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.”
I agree with Belichick 100 percent, and there absolutely should be some discipline from the league office. I still can’t believe a flag wasn’t thrown.
Both Belichick and Talib’s teammates acknowledged after the game that Talib’s injury had a major impact on the game. Patriots Safety Steve Gregory said:
“By no means is it easy to replace a guy like Aqib so, yeah, it was tough to see him go down.”
Welker, who was fantastic for the Patriots from 2007-2012, said he did not intend to take out his former teammate:
“It was one of those plays where it’s kind of a rough play and I was trying to get him to go over the top, and I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided. It wasn’t a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that. I hope he’s okay. He’s a great player and a big part of their defense.”
I don’t know if I believe Welker or not, but what is surprising about all of this is that Belichick, a man of few words during his press conferences, seems to have let Welker get under his skin a bit. One of the main reasons Welker signed with Denver as a free agent in the offseason is because his relationship with Belichick deteriorated. Welker felt like he couldn’t be himself in New England because of Belichick and having to adhere to the “Patriot Way.”
Normally Belichick is very businesslike when it comes to football. He doesn’t let his emotions creep into his football life, whether he’s deciding if he should go for it on fourth-and-2 against the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 (I still love that he went for it) or to cut a player. Whatever Belichick believes gives the Patriots the best chance to win is what he will do. What will be best for the Patriots now is for Belichick and the rest of the team to move on so they can start preparing for next season.
It sounds like Belichick might join Brady in boycotting the Super Bowl this year.