Although it had nothing to do with the outcome, one of more interesting talking points of the New England Patriots-New York Jets playoff game Sunday was the pregame benching of Pats wide receiver Wes Welker.
Coach Bill Belichick deflected postgame questions about his decision to sit Welker for New England’s opening offensive series, but it’s a good assumption he was ticked at Welker for making foot references aimed at Jets coach Rex Ryan. Belichick had told his players to avoid any kind of trash talk before the game, but Welker obviously couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke fun at Ryan.
Nose tackle Vince Wilfork, however, offered his opinion during his weekly radio show on WEEI in Boston.
“I didn’t hear about that until the end of the game,” Wilfork told WEEI, according to Ian R. Rapoport of the Boston Herald. “That was something Bill and Wes went through. Me, personally, I don’t know, I don’t know. That’s the head man making a point about what we represent. I wouldn’t have done it. That’s just me. Biggest game of the year so far, and probably one of your biggest players not being on the field. That’s just me. Everybody has their opinion. That’s my opinion. I wouldn’t have done it.”
To be sure, the Patriots were still steaming about their 28-21 loss, in part because of the excessive celebrating the Jets were doing after the game. It undoubtedly left a bitter taste in the Pats’ mouths, who must now watch the Jets play the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC championship.
Quarterback Tom Brady, talking with WEEI, said: “They’ve had a good year. When you have a good year, you can say whatever you want to say. I wish we’d won just to be able to shut them up. But we didn’t. So, you know what? It just validates what they think it takes to win. That’s where they gain their confidence from.”
For what it’s worth, Brady also didn’t believe Welker’s benching had any impact.
“That has no bearing on the way that we played as a team,” Brady said. “I think that’s just, I don’t know, I don’t think it had any effect on the game. What has the most effect on the game is the way that we played.”