For the second straight season, the loss of Aqib Talib during the AFC title game affected the way the Patriots defense played the rest of the game, and not coincidentally, New England, without its No. 1 cornerback, lost to the Ravens last year and to the Broncos on Sunday.
As soon as Talib, who collided with Wes Welker while trailing Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route, was injured and had to leave the game, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning begin targeting Welker and cornerback Devin McCourty.
On Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in his postseason press conference that Welker -- Belichick's former player who contributed mightily to New England for many seasons, mind you -- deliberately hurt Talib.
"The way that play turned out, I went back and watched it, which I didn't have a chance to [Sunday]," Belichick said Monday morning, via ESPN Boston. "It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open. I'll let the league handle the discipline on that play, whatever they decide. It's one of the worst plays I've seen."
Judge for yourself here, via Larry Brown Sports.
While it appeared as though Welker was trying to pick or rub Talib to throw him off Thomas' route, he was not penalized for pass interference. Probably because of this:
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
Either way, it's a pretty nasty thing for Belichick to say about his former player unless he knows for sure that Welker was trying to harm Talib and knock him out of the game. Besides, there's also this:
A deliberate act to pick is far different from a deliberate act to injure. Belichick should know this. His team lives by the pick routes.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) January 20, 2014
Finally, here's an intense infographic that may or may not help explain what exactly happened.
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