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.