FOXBORO, Mass. — Wide receiver Wes Welker has some sour memories of the Patriots' 2009 playoff loss to the Ravens.
Obviously, it's not like there were any Patriots who were thrilled about the outcome of that game, which was the most lopsided postseason defeat of head coach Bill Belichick's tenure in New England. But Welker watched the game on crutches, just a week after tearing up his knee in the regular-season finale.
"It's always tough when your team is out there playing and you're not able to, especially in the playoffs," Welker said Monday. "We had such a good year that year and [I was] wanting to help my team and things like that. I'm just glad it's behind me. I'm glad it's over, and I'm in the position I'm in to be able to play in this game and hopefully make the most of my opportunity."
Welker had a career-high 123 receptions in 2009, and his 1,348 receiving yards were the most of his career until this season. He was their most consistent offensive player, and maybe even their most indispensable.
Whether or not his presence — both as a leader and a necessary offensive catalyst — would have made a difference in the 33-14 loss will never be known. But his involvement this time around is yet another reason why this Patriots team is far different from the one that lost to the Ravens two years ago.
Welker — plus the other 19 players who were on the active roster for both the 2009 game and this week's rematch — hopes the different team can yield a different outcome.
"That was then, and this is a total new year, a total new team, total new everything," Welker said. "We just have to go into it prepared and make sure we're ready and play much better this time around."