Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, made a point to call out his former star wide out, Wes Welker, in his season-ending press conference Monday morning about a pick play that resulted in an injury to Patriots CB Aqib Talib during New England’s AFC Championship 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos.
“As it turned out, that was a key play in the game, if you take a look at it on the replay,” Belichick said during the post-game presser Sunday. “I thought it was a key play in the game. I’ll have to take a look at it on the film. It was a key play in the game. I’ll say he’s a key player for us.”
Having had a chance to review the action in question, during which Talib sustained a game-ending knee injury, the Patriots’ skipper had a much more grave opinion on the matter.
“I was asked about the hit on Talib. I feel badly for Aqib, the way that play turned out. I went back and watched it, which I didn’t have a chance to do yesterday,” the New England architect said via ESPN. “It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open.”
“I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that play, it’s not for me to decide, but it’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen,” Belichick said.
That’s some pretty harsh hyperbole for a player who gave the New England Patriots five seasons with 100-plus catches and more than 1,100 yards over six years. A player whose disciplinary history amounts to being fined for wearing an unauthorized cap during interviews after Patriots games. Coming from a New England coach central to one of the league’s greatest scandals.
And video of the collision is far from conclusive as to how dirty it was. It’s a standard pick play, one that teams across the league, including the Patriots, employ each week to gain an edge over the opposing team’s secondary.
Welker, for his part, made it clear he wasn’t targeting his former New England 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,” Welker said after the game, via WEEI.com. “It wasn’t a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that.
“I hope he’s OK — he’s a great player and a big part of their defense.”
What do you think of Welker’s hit on Talib? Did that play lead to the New England Patriots’ loss? Could the Patriots’ secondary have contained the Denver passing game if Talib had returned?
(Image retrieved from Sports Illustrated)