New England coach Bill Belichick called it the worst plays he's seen. The NFL didn't even think it was a penalty.
The league ruled that Broncos receiver Wes Welker's hit on Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, which knocked Talib out of last Sunday's AFC championship game with a knee injury and one that Belichick called deliberate, was legal.
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said he had communicated with Belichick after the ruling was made. The transcript of that conversation would be a lot of fun to read.
Blandino: "We talked about the situation & play. Obviously there is a difference of opinion there..."
— NFL Media PR (@InsideNFLMedia) January 23, 2014
"...and something that we’ll continue to look at during the offseason.” — NFL Media PR (@InsideNFLMedia) January 23, 2014
The play was a throw to Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route. Talib was trailing Thomas, and Welker was crossing in the opposite direction when they collided. Blandino said Welker didn't commit pass interference because Thomas touched the ball "almost simultaneously" to Welker hitting Talib. Talib wasn't out of the play and it wasn't late, so Welker didn't commit unnecessary roughness either.
Belichick came off as having some sour grapes after the Patriots lost the AFC championship game, calling out Welker, who left the Patriots this offseason in a fairly acrimonious split. The notion that the Broncos would send the undersized Welker, who has had two concussions this year, to be a hitman on Talib is a bit of a reach. The fact that Welker hit Talib high offers no evidence he was trying to take out his opponent's knee.
The NFL's ruling makes Belichick's reaction to the play look even more petty.
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