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Monday, January 20, 2014
Follow-up thoughts on Belichick's claim

By Mike Reiss



DENVER -- There is no revisionist history from this viewpoint when it comes to receiver Wes Welker’s knockout hit on cornerback Aqib Talib in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

This is what was written at halftime: “The missed penalty call on Welker was most egregious from this viewpoint.”

Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, now an analyst on Fox, disagreed. Former official Jim Daopoulos, who now provides analysis for NBC, looked at it differently.

The two former officials were making their determination based on the timing of when the ball was delivered. If it's already delivered, it's not a penalty. If the ball hasn't been delivered, it is a penalty.

We can debate that as it's a judgment call, but what Bill Belichick said Monday morning is something altogether different.

Belichick's judgment call is that Welker, whose relationship with his former coach was hot and cold at times, deliberately intended to take out Talib.

I have a tough time going there.

It starts with my feeling that intent to injure isn't in Welker’s DNA, especially after what he went through with his torn ACL four years ago.

I watched the play over and over again Monday morning, and this is the conclusion I came to: Welker's job on the play, as he ran a crossing route from right to left, was clearly to rub out Talib as he was trailing Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route underneath from left to right. These plays are commonplace, as Greg Bedard of TheMMQB.com wrote last week, and the Patriots themselves run them often.

In fact, if you listen closely enough to the audio of CBS' broadcast feed, the Patriots seemed to know it was coming because you almost hear a defensive player saying "Watch the pick!" before the snap.

Welker never looked for the ball before making contact with Talib. He also veered slightly upfield to pick off Talib.

I think it should have been penalized.

But do I really think Welker was intending to injure Talib? I don't.

And that, like the debate over whether a flag should have been thrown, is a judgment call.