Shutdown Corner - NFL

Bill Belichick felt like he had to put his foot down.

Minutes before kickoff in the team's AFC divisional playoff game against the New York Jets, the New England Patriots coach benched Wes Welker(notes) for comments the receiver made earlier in the week about Rex Ryan's fondness of feet. Welker, you may remember, peppered in 11 references to feet in a press conference earlier in the week, a clear dig at the Jets coach.

After Sunday's benching, I bet Welker wishes he hadn't put his foot in his mouth and crossed the line that his coach had toed in the sand.

Credit to Belichick for keeping the benching under wraps until a few minutes before kickoff. He easily could have announced the decision earlier today (perhaps by listing Welker as "questionable (foot)" on the injury report) and made a big deal about it, but he made it a gametime decision and minimized any distraction that could have stemmed from the benching. That's the way to handle it. If Rex Ryan was going to sit someone down, I'd imagine he'd probably tell The New York Post about it before he told the player.

Less credit to Belichick for going back on the discipline and putting in Welker to return the first punt of the game. The wideout sat for the subsequent offensive series, but catching the punt seemed like it defeeted defeated the purpose of the benching.

Welker was back in for New England's second series and used some fancy footwork to snag a 10-yard reception from Tom Brady(notes).

Thanks to the Shutdown Corner playoff e-mail chain which helped with all the bad puns.

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