FOXBORO, Mass. — For the second time in two years, a costly Wes Welker drop benefitted the New England Patriots.
Last season, Welker’s muffed punt set up the Patriots’ game-winning field goal in overtime. Sunday’s mistake didn’t come at as important a juncture, but it certainly looked much more painful.
A third-quarter Peyton Manning pass bounced right off Welker’s hands and into the waiting arms of Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner. As it did, Patriots safety Devin McCourty delivered a big — and legal — hit on Welker, sending the Denver Broncos receiver to the Gillette Stadium turf in a heap.
Welker eventually walked off gingerly with the help of the Broncos’ training staff. He was announced as probable to return with a back injury.
Browner returned the interception to the Denver 10-yard line, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady found Brandon LaFell for a touchdown on the next play to give New England a 37-14 lead.
UPDATE (7:25 p.m.): The Broncos later announced that Welker would not return.
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