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

aqibtalib Getty Images

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.

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37 Responses to “NFL confirms Wes Welker’s hit on Aqib Talib was legal”
  1. brutus9448 says: Jan 22, 2014 6:02 PM

    sherman is next

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 22, 2014 6:05 PM

    They are so sarcastic in knowing how all of the rules are current rules and will one day be updated. What they are doing is tantamount to taunting!

  3. 7pints says: Jan 22, 2014 6:08 PM

    Can’t wait for Belichick to cry about the ruling now, too!

  4. stealthjunk says: Jan 22, 2014 6:08 PM

    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.

  5. orangeandblueblood says: Jan 22, 2014 6:11 PM

    It’s called gamesmanship Bill, you used to be good at it. Quit crying about Welker, you could have kept him and chose not to and it came back to haunt you!

  6. woodworthbayoutiger says: Jan 22, 2014 6:12 PM

    Belicheck goes down a couple notches for me on this one. I liked him better when he was just surly and non communicative in his press conferences. Shut up Bill and lose gracefully.

  7. notmrknowitall says: Jan 22, 2014 6:13 PM

    How is that legal??? He hit the guy before the ball was in the receivers hands. Ridiculous.

  8. atleastimnotaraidersfan says: Jan 22, 2014 6:17 PM

    Maybe BB can eat himself out of his misery with his sour grapes.

  9. chawk12thman says: Jan 22, 2014 6:19 PM

    I can see where it didn’t draw a fine, but how is it legal to run a pick play?

  10. youngs79 says: Jan 22, 2014 6:19 PM

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

  11. donny1rodriguez says: Jan 22, 2014 6:20 PM

    awesome now do it to sherman

  12. The League's Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Jan 22, 2014 6:22 PM

    Somewhere Brady is stomping his feet.

  13. thetruthcampaign says: Jan 22, 2014 6:23 PM

    I wonder if his hit on Sherman, coming up, will be legal too.

  14. denverdave3 says: Jan 22, 2014 6:27 PM

    Those 5’9” guys have got to stop going over the middle and beating up those big ol’ D-backs.

    That ain’t real football.

  15. sociosquatch says: Jan 22, 2014 6:32 PM

    if a defender can get there right when the ball does, why shouldn’t a receiver be able to do it?

  16. buddycianci says: Jan 22, 2014 6:38 PM

    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.

  17. brazin99 says: Jan 22, 2014 6:45 PM

    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.

  18. kvgrekop says: Jan 22, 2014 6:48 PM

    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.

  19. braven4evr says: Jan 22, 2014 6:48 PM

    The Pats have been running this same type of play as much if not more than most teams.

  20. doggeatdogg says: Jan 22, 2014 6:53 PM

    I guess Bill won’t be watching the Super Bowl either.

  21. haterade999 says: Jan 22, 2014 6:57 PM

    Well hey, if pick plays are now legal everyone should use them.

  22. packhawk04 says: Jan 22, 2014 6:58 PM

    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.

  23. tvjules says: Jan 22, 2014 7:10 PM

    Good luck attempting your pick against Sherman.
    Hope the special concussion helmet has extra padding, cause you’ll need it Wes.

  24. jiminauburn says: Jan 22, 2014 7:26 PM

    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.

  25. deadlevelbest says: Jan 22, 2014 7:52 PM

    But the hoodie is a genius! How can he be wrong!

  26. backdapack4evr says: Jan 22, 2014 8:05 PM

    Him and Percy are real GLASSY!!

  27. dolphinatic13 says: Jan 22, 2014 8:42 PM

    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

  28. jrs45 says: Jan 22, 2014 9:09 PM

    Clean.

  29. ivyent says: Jan 22, 2014 10:14 PM

    Bottom line is it may be a legal play but it puts a defensive back at risk and should be addressed.

  30. theuglitruth says: Jan 22, 2014 11:37 PM

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

  31. raiders85 says: Jan 23, 2014 1:22 AM

    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

  32. norvisalittlerat says: Jan 23, 2014 1:36 AM

    Makes sense one of the biggest winners would be the sorest loser. I guess they equal out. That’s why everyone hates the Pats

  33. bobman2 says: Jan 23, 2014 1:38 AM

    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.

  34. stagedoorjohnny says: Jan 23, 2014 1:07 PM

    Legal or not, if Walker pulls that crap on the Legion of Boom he will eat his dinner with a straw.

  35. ironcity87 says: Jan 23, 2014 1:51 PM

    Quit crying Bill and lose gracefully…

  36. bigbeefyd says: Jan 23, 2014 4:44 PM

    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.

  37. lanman11 says: Jan 23, 2014 5:59 PM

    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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