All week, Patriots fans were up in arms about how brash and brazen the New York Jets were acting. Rex Ryan criticized Tom Brady's choice of Saturday night entertainment. Antonio Cromartie called Brady a [well, you know by now]. They were making a mockery of the game.
So when Wes Welker took the podium at Gillette Stadium on Thursday and said "foot," "feet" and "toes" as many times as he could, it was peculiar that many of the same fans who were outraged at the Jets were finding humor in Welker's joking ways. While Welker's antics may have had some fans fooled, Bill Belichick was not amused. So much so, in fact, that he forced Welker to sit out and watch the first offensive series of the night from the sidelines.
In doing so, Belichick sent a message: You are here to play football and do your job. You're not here to be a comedian, and you're not here to rile up the other team.
In principle, it was the right move. In reality, it might have backfired.
It was that opening drive that saw Brady complete three of his four passes before sailing a screen pass over the head of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and into the hands of Jets linebacker David Harris. The Jets didn't end up scoring on the ensuing possession, but the pick was damaging. It took the ball out of the Patriots' hands when they had a first down inside the Jets' 30, it gave the Jets confidence and it rattled the Patriots' offense. Quite obviously, having Welker — he of the team-leading 86 catches this season — standing on the sideline didn't look so good.
Yet, decisions can't be made in retrospect; they must be made for a reason. Even though it ended up hurting the team, it's hard to fault Belichick for following the code his team has followed for the past decade.
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Sunday, Jan. 16: Did the Jets step up and win or the did the Patriots blow it?