Patriots coach Bill Belichick was not alone in his thinking that there should have been some sort of action taken against Wes Welker for his hit on Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship Game.
"When I saw it, just as a player in general, Wes, was he doing his job? I'm sure he was to a certain degree," Patriots defensive end Andre Carter said in the locker room Monday. "I think the hit could've [been] cleaner. I've been around a lot of football to see that.
"At the end of the day, it was a nasty play. We'll see what the league does."
The play occurred in the second quarter Sunday. With the Broncos in the early portions of a drive that would put them up 10-0, Welker streaked through the middle of the field and smacked into a crossing Talib, who left with a knee injury and did not return.
Carter also labeled the play by Welker as "unacceptable," although he did acknowledge that plays of this variety are part of the game and something for which defenders need to prepare.
Others on the New England side agreed, almost hailing the play as a smart one until the league figures out a way to police the situation or remove some of the grey area between what is and what isn't a penalty.
Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty had yet to view tape of the play, but could see both sides of the argument.
"[Belichick's] seen a lot of football. So I might go with what he says, but I haven't watched it or had a chance to look at it," McCourty said before being asked whether Welker had intent to injure. "I don't know. That's tough to say someone would do that, but I think all of us out there would do anything to try to win the game.
"Each team's different but they're very good at [the rub route]. They run that a lot, they do a good job of it. so it happens a lot. They don't get called if they're done a certain way, or they might get called one time and you run it seven, eight times and it gets called once. So it's a pretty good play to run."
Belichick acknowledged after the game that the Talib injury had a major impact on the outcome, and Talib's teammates said the same Monday.
"Definitely, big time. Aqib's a heck of a football player for us," safety Steve Gregory said. "He matches up against what we consider the top receiver week in and week out. He's a leader, he's a competitive guy, a guy that's going to go out and give you everything he's got, so you never want to lose a guy like that. But at the same time, other guys have to step up like we've done all year.
"By no means is it easy to replace a guy like Aqib so, yeah, it was tough to see him go down."
Gregory, Welker's teammate in 2012, stopped short of saying the Denver receiver had bad intentions.
"I don't think anybody in this league does things deliberately to hurt another player," Gregory said. "I don't think anybody really plays that way, especially at this level of football with two great football teams with the Broncos and ourselves. I don't know."