Bill Belichick believes Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker intended to "take out" Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib when the players collided during the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game. The day after his team was defeated by the Broncos 26-16, Belichick slammed Welker, who played for the Patriots from 2007-2012, during a press conference.
"I was asked about the hit on Talib, and 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 yesterday. It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib," Belichick said on Monday. "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. That's all I'll say about that."
On the play when the injury was sustained, Talib had been defending Broncos wide receiver Demaryious Thomas. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw a short pass to Thomas on a left-right crossing route. As the ball reached Thomas, Welker, running a right-left route underneath, collided with Talib in the middle of the field.
(GIF via @davidpwoods)
Despite Belichick's apparent belief that there was a clear foul and intent to injure on the play, no penalty was called. Talib left the game and was later ruled out with a knee injury.
Mike Pereira, the NFL's former Vice President of Officiating, felt the officials got it right by not calling for offensive pass interference on the play.
People asking about thej hit on Talib. That is not a foul. Ball was touched by 88 about the same time as contact, Can't be OPI.
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 19, 2014
After Denver's 26-16 victory, Welker said he wasn't trying to hit Talib during the play.
"I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided," Welker said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN NFL Nation. "It wasn’t a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that. I hope he’s OK."