The Patriots lost Alfonzo Dennard for a few plays in the first quarter, but it looks like they’ll be without cornerback Aqib Talib a bit longer than that.
Talib has returned to the locker room after being injured early in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game. Talib and Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker collided while the Broncos were running a crossing route. There was no flag thrown on Welker, although Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was flagged for offensive pass interference on a similar play earlier in the game.
Talib, who was also injured in last year’s AFC title game, stayed down on the field awaiting medical attention, was examined briefly on the sideline and then taken to the back for further evaluation. The Patriots say he is questionable to return with a rib injury.
The Patriots could have used Talib as the Broncos drove for a touchdown after his departure. Denver converted two long third downs on the drive and Manning hit Jacob Tamme from one-yard out to make the score 10-0 Broncos with 7:50 to play in the first half.
New England came back from a bigger deficit against the Broncos during the regular season, although the loss of Talib for the rest of the afternoon would make any comeback effort a lot more difficult this time around.