Wes Welker Steals Spotlight in Patriots-Jets Rematch


Wes Welker Steals Spotlight in Patriots-Jets Rematch FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New York Jets did everything they could to stop Randy Moss on Sunday. In doing so, they forgot about the New England Patriots' little guy — wide receiver Wes Welker.

"He's like the Energizer Bunny," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "He keeps on going and going, even if he gets knocked down."

Welker set career highs with 15 receptions and 192 yards during Sunday's 31-14 victory against the Jets at Gillette Stadium, and he proved to be the ultimate difference in the rematch. Welker missed the Week 2 matchup in the Meadowlands with a knee injury, and the Patriots couldn't find any rhythm without the guy Bill Belichick calls "probably the best slot receiver in the league."

Back in September, Brady completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts for just the ninth time in 139 career starts, including the playoffs. Revis took Moss out of that game, and Brady had a hard time staying in sync with Julian Edelman, Joey Galloway and the other receivers who were trying to fill Welker's void.

Naturally, the offense has progressed in a number of areas since that meeting, but Welker's value cannot be understated, especially against a team that blitzes as often as the Jets.

New York had Revis covering Moss all afternoon again Sunday, and according to many Patriots, the Jets also had safety Kerry Rhodes shading Moss' side of the field the majority of the time. When the Jets blitzed, it seemed to be an automatic completion to Welker, who caught an astounding 15 of the 17 passes thrown in his direction.

"I knew there were probably going to be a lot of balls coming my way and things like that, but not to that extent," Welker said. "Just watching film, the way [the Jets] played us last time with Randy and things like that, knowing that they were probably going to match Revis on him and play a lot of deep safeties back there, stuff like that, and being able to work the middle of the field in there."

Therefore, Welker readied himself for another big performance. It was his fourth game this season with at least 10 receptions, which is three shy of Andre Johnson's league record, and it was his sixth game with at least nine catches. Keep in mind, Welker missed two games with that knee injury, and he still leads the NFL with 79 receptions. He is on pace to catch 126 passes this season, which would easily break his own franchise record of 112.

Welker's 15 receptions Sunday were one shy of Troy Brown's team record for most in a single game, and his 192 receiving yards were the third most in Patriots history.

"Wow, that is pretty bad," Rhodes responded when he was informed of Welker's stats, "but he is a good player."

Welker took a number of hard hits from Jets defenders Sunday, a natural byproduct of going over the middle to catch so many passes, and he received the appropriate praise from his biggest supporter.

"He takes a lot of them, and when you work the inside of the field, that's where all of the big guys are at," said Brady, who joked that Welker can sometimes be hard to see "because he's about 5-foot-7."

"He scoots his way in there, and he's always fighting for extra yards," Brady continued. "He's one of the toughest guys I've ever played with, and his durability is pretty impressive for the kind of shots he takes."

Brady completed 13 of 24 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown when aiming for players not named Welker, so it shows how much better Brady can be when he has the shifty slot receiver in the game. Still, Welker didn't seem too fazed by his own statistical outburst.

"I don't look into it really too much," Welker said. "I'm out there doing my job and trying to do it well, and everything else kind of falls by the wayside. It's definitely cool to be able to get those catches, and I'll probably look back at the end of the year and be able to reminisce about it."

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