Wes Welker laid a hit on Aqib Talib that sent the New England Patriots cornerback out of Sundays AFC Championship game, leading to accusations that the play was outside of NFL rules and a deliberate attempt to injure.
A reading of the NFL rulebook may show differently, at least on the legality of the play.
The play happened in the second quarter of Denver’s 26-16 win over New England. Demaryius Thomas was coming across the middle on a passing play just as Wes Welker was come from the opposite direction. Welker laid a hit on Talib as he came across, a move many have described as an illegal pick play to free Thomas up from the defender.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick took it a step further, saying the Welker hit on Talib was a deliberate attempt to injure.
“It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open,” Belichick was quoted by ESPN Boston.
Belichick added: “I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that play, whatever they decide. It’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen.”
Belichick’s remarks speak to a strained history between him and the former Patriots receiver. Welker and Belichick aren’t exactly on good terms, especially after Welker spoke ill of his former coach shortly after joining the Broncos,and Belichick’s decision to refer to him simply as “the receiver” speaks to the icy relationship.
The NFL rulebook may disagree with Belichick, showing that he Welker hit on Talib was within the rules. The rulebook says that for offensive pass interference to be called, contact has to occur before the ball is touched.
The rule reads:
“If the contact occurs as ball is being touched, there is no offensive pass interference. When it happens all at the same time — the ball being touched and contact elsewhere — it is not a foul. The contact has to be clearly before the ball is touched for it to draw a flag.”
Replays showed that Thomas was touching the ball the moment that Welker hit Talib.
No penalty was called for the Welker hit on Talib.