who was replaced in the starting lineup by Julian Edelman on Sunday, stood by
and watched as the Patriots offense struggled to combat a stringy Arizona
defense for much of the first half. Just when it seemed that Tom Brady and the
passing attack would never find its rhythm, though, Welker showed up.
31-year-old wide receiver played sparingly during much of the half, but he
entered the game for good on the Patriots final possession of the first half.
Split out to the left, Welker made his presence known with a 25-yard grab
along the sideline to help move the chains and spark the offense.
catch was something of a momentum swing for the Patriots offense, but even more
so it was a momentous occasion for the nine-year veteran. With his first catch of
the day, Welker passed newly inducted Patriots Hall of Fame member Troy Brown,
who was honored during halftime of Sunday's game, on the franchise's all-time
Brown's total of 557, which he set during his final season in 2007, was a heralded
record held by one of the franchise's all-time beloved players.
was happy to have such a prestigious record, but he remained much more
concerned with the team's gruesome performance in the 20-18 loss.
of course, you want to win the game," Welker said when asked if the loss
and his limited playing time diluted the euphoria of his new record. "You know, you want to be out there, I
think as a competitor and everything else, especially on Sundays, it's what we
play for and what we work for and you want to be out there."
Welker was short and sweet, just like a lot of his routes against the Cardinals on
Sunday. His quarterback was a little more expansive on the matter, though,
explaining how important Welker is to the Patriots attack.
a phenomenal player and when he makes plays, it really sparks our whole
offense and he made a bunch of them today," Brady said, giving Welker a
ringing endorsement. "That's what we need."
comments carry a lot of weight, and maybe given Welker's standout
performance — five receptions for 95 yards — combined with the Patriots' inability
to find the end zone on Sunday, we'll see Welker return to his starting role and
the offense return to its high-scoring ways.