Belichick: Welker tried to ‘take out’ Talib
FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — The collision that knocked Aqib Talib out of the AFC Championship game reverberated on Monday when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wes Welker tried to “take out” the star cornerback.
Belichick took the shot at his former wide receiver after viewing video of the second-quarter play in the Denver Broncos’ 26-16 win on Sunday. Coming from opposite sides, the players ran into each other. No penalty was called.
It “was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib, no attempt to get open,” Belichick said during his opening statement at his season-ending news conference.
“It’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said on Monday, “If there is any discipline for plays in (Sunday’s) games, it will be determined by Merton Hanks later in the week.”
Hanks is the league’s vice president of player operations.
Welker, who had a cool relationship with Belichick before leaving New England as a free agent last offseason, was not available for comment on Monday.
But after the game, he said, “it was one of those plays where it’s kind of a rub 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.”
After Talib left with a knee injury, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning took advantage of having the much shorter Alfonzo Dennard covering receivers Talib normally would handle. The previous season, a thigh injury ended Talib’s day in the first quarter of the AFC Championship game, a 28-13 loss to Baltimore.
Denver coach John Fox said he hadn’t seen Belichick’s comments but called Welker “a great player, high integrity. I can say that we were not doing anything with intent.”
Asked why he would send the 5-foot-9 (21.75-meter) Welker, 4 inches (10 centimeters) shorter, at Talib after sustaining two recent concussions, Fox said, “That’s a good question. I don’t have an answer to it.”
But he and several Patriots said pick plays in which one receiver brushes against or hits a defender to free another receiver are becoming more prevalent.
“Teams do a lot of that just to give guys separation and to open up the passing game,” safety Devin McCourty said.
Steve Gregory, New England’s other starting safety, said he didn’t think Welker would deliberately try to hurt a player.
“I don’t think anybody plays that way,” he said, “especially at this level of football with two great football teams in the Broncos and ourselves.”
Patriots defensive end Andre Carter called it a “nasty” play.
“Wes, was he doing his job? I’m sure he was to a certain degree,” Carter said. ”(Do) I think the hit could have been cleaner? Yes.”