NFL confirms Wes Welker’s hit on Aqib Talib was legal

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t like it, but Broncos receiver Wes Welker didn’t violate NFL rules when he hit Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib on Sunday.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino has confirmed that Welker’s hit — which knocked Talib out of the AFC Championship Game — was legal.

“Under the current rules, this is a legal play,” Blandino said, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Blandino’s phrasing — “under the current rules” — suggests that the NFL’s Competition Committee will look at such hits during the offseason and consider a rules change that would protect defensive players from getting drilled by one receiver while they’re trailing another receiver.

Until that rule exists, however, receivers are free to hit defensive backs that way. With the Broncos looking for every advantage they can find as they prepare to face a great Seattle secondary, don’t be surprised if they run more of those pick plays in the Super Bowl.

37 responses to “NFL confirms Wes Welker’s hit on Aqib Talib was legal

  1. Welker hit Talib right as (or even after) the ball hit Thomas’s hands. In other words, it was the equivalent of a legal block for a ballcarrier. Not sure how you can rewrite the rules to stop players from blocking for ballcarriers. If Welker had hit Talib when the ball was still in the air, it would have been pass interference — that’s probably the best the rules can fairly do.

  2. So, let me get this straight… Belichick thinks a legal play is the worst he’s ever seen. Sounds about right.

  3. Look at the video: Welker does indeed hit Talib before the ball is secured by Thomas. Saying otherwise is false.

    NFL probably called it “legal” just to quiet the debate and help direct focus onto the Super Bowl. Plus, I don’t think they mind contradicting Belichick, since he’s probably not their favorite guy.

  4. It will be just a little different when Welker goes to take out a 6′ 3″ CB. And God forbid he tries to take out Kam Chancellor.

  5. I hate the Pats, BUT if you actually go back and look at it (rather than just loving/hating Belichick) you’ll CLEARLY see that Welker took him out before the ball touches the WR and should have been Offensive PI. It wasn’t any kind of personal foul, but definitely PI on Welker per the “current rules”. …not sure what they are looking at. And again I hate the pats.

  6. Every team runs pick plays. Get over it. The ball was out of mannings hands when talib was hit. Thats all that matters. It doesnt matter at all if thomas had it or not. Deal with it. Belichek should know, he teaches the play.

  7. NFL got this wrong. He hit him before the ball got there, and it was clearly a pick. Hope they don’t get away with this crap in the SB. If they try this against the Seattle DBs, it will be the Bronco receivers knocked out of the game.

  8. 1st the hoodie is not backed by the NFL and now the Commish is going to take away the extra point? Boy, both Bill and the Gramatica’s are going to be furious. #betrayed

  9. I have to admit….I hate these pick plays! Wide receivers should win their battle straight up…not with rub routes.

  10. Why is an illegal pick play only legal if a Peyton lead team does it? I guess probably the same reason his oline is allowed to false start every play and run illegal motion

  11. If the “worst thing I [Belichick] ever saw” was legal in the eyes of the on-field refs and the NFL honchos, what has he been watching all these years? He’s never seen a helmet ripped off? A guy getting nut-stomped? Helmeted Erik Walden head-butting a helmetless Delaney Walker? It surprised me when BB went to that extreme with his comments; even more so now. He’s usually such a level-headed guy and 99.9% of the time he’s right.

    And… if the league does change things to make this illegal next year, we can honestly say there are TWO rule changes made purely as the result of the Pats public whining, the Brady Rule (no QB hits below knee) and the Talib Rule, compared to NONE for the Colts (when the league just reminded the refs in 2004 to enforce the rules already on the books about downfield contact). Pats fans have griped about Polian leaning on the comp committee for a decade now, but no rules changed as a result; the refs were simply told to do their jobs better (much like fans have been screaming to the refs all season).

    I think that would deserve an irony-infused BWA-HA-HA.

  12. I’m a die-hard, season ticket holding Bronco fan. NFL got this one wrong. It should have been a 10-yard PI penalty on Wes. I don’t believe for a minute, though, that he was trying to hurt Talib.

  13. Here’s hoping the LOB levels Bobblehead Welker. It wasn’t as block. It was a crosscheck. It was a penalty, and he went low for a reason. Why would a guy with concussion problems go low and risk being knee’d in the head and get another concussion?

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