Wes Welker's controversial hit that knocked Aqib Talib out of the AFC Championship Game drew the ire of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but on Wednesday the NFL deemed it a legal play.
On Monday, Belichick called the pick by his former slot receiver on his best defensive back "one of the worst plays I've ever seen." The NFL didn't agree, but might have tipped its hand that "pick" or "rub" plays -- patterns in which receivers cross routes in hopes of detouring defenders in coverage -- could come under review by the league's Competition Committee in the offseason.
“Under the current rules, this is a legal play,” NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Prior to the Broncos' 26-16 win over the Patriots, Greg Bedard, of TheMMQB.com, detailed the controversial plays, noting that few teams ran those plays more than the AFC title game participants.
Welker said he wasn’t trying to injure or hit Talib.
“It was one of those plays where it’s kind of a rough play and I was trying to get him to go over the top, and I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided,” Welker said. “It wasn’t a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that. I hope he’s OK. He’s a great player and a big part of their defense.”
NFL head of refs Dean Blandino on the Welker/Talib play: “Under the current rules, this is a legal play.” More on Total Access… — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 22, 2014