Wes Welker Hit That Injured Aqib Talib Was Legal, NFL Officiating Exec Says

Peyton Manning, Wes WelkerWes Welker‘s hit on Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship Game had an unfortunate result for the New England Patriots cornerback, but it likely won’t draw a fine.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Wednesday on NFL Network’s NFL Total Access that the Denver Broncos wide receiver’s hit, which caused Talib to miss the rest of the game with a knee injury, was completely legal.

“Let’s look at the video, and we’ll explain why,” Blandino said. “Here’s Welker in the slot. And the first potential foul would be for offensive pass interference. The receiver can’t block downfield before the ball is touched. So the timing is important. You see Welker run the route, and he does appear to angle back toward Talib and come into his path, creating that contact.

“Now we have to look to see when was the ball touched in relation to the contact. You’ll see here, as the contact occurs, the ball is touched almost simultaneously. We don’t have a foul for pass interference.”

Welker was not flagged for unnecessary roughness because his hit was not late and Talib was considered part of the play. Since Blandino says it was fair, Welker likely won’t face any discipline from the NFL for his game-changing block, even if Bill Belichick believes it was “one of the worst plays” he’d ever seen.

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