Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib limped to the sidelines in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC Championship matchup with the Broncos after wide receiver Wes Welker, who spent the previous six seasons in New England, collided with him while running a crossing route. Talib didn't return and the Broncos cruised to a 26-16 victory.
Picks are commonplace, not just in Denver but around the league. It's a means to free wide receivers facing man coverage. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick thought it was something more than your garden-variety pick play, going so far as to say, "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."
On Wednesday, the league weighed in and, as it turns out, there's nothing to handle.
“Under the current rules, this is a legal play,” NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino said, via NFL Network.
As ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith points out, Blandino's use of "under the current rules" could suggest that the competition committee will look at such plays during the offseason and possibly consider a rules change. For now, Welker shouldn't have been flagged, whether his actions were deliberate or not.
* .GIF via Deadspin