We interrupt the ongoing coverage of an activity that may have influenced the outcome of Super Bowl XLIV to address once again a play that may have influenced the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI.
Patriots receiver Wes Welker has taken the blame for failing to catch what likely would have been a Super Bowl-clinching pass against the Giants. Some (i.e., me) think that the inaccuracy of the throw made the effort much more difficult.
Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has taken things one step farther. O’Brien, who now serves as the head coach at Penn State, says that Welker has no blame at all.
“That wasn’t a drop,” O’Brien tells Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe. “That would have been a tremendous catch, and he should never think twice about that. And it had nothing to do with us losing the game. There were many, many plays before that where we could have made better coaching decisions, and better plays. That’s just one play of many.”
Curiously, O’Brien said nothing about the quality of the pass from Tom Brady.
As I’ve believed from the moment the play happened, Welker made a remarkable effort — leaping, leaning, and lunging — to even get his hands on the ball. Mindful of the reality that, if he’d hit the ground with his hands stretched out, he likely would have provided the latest example of the so-called Calvin Johnson rule, Welker likely lost control while trying to instantly shift the ball into the nook of one of his elbows and to turn his body to absorb the impact without letting any of the real leather touch the fake grass.
So I agree with O’Brien. And given the manner in which Brady chewed O’Brien out on the sidelines of a December 11 game against the Redskins, I can understand why O’Brien stopped short of finishing his thought.