Bill Belichick had to give a season-ending press conference on Jan. 20, instead of celebrating another AFC championship with the New England Patriots. The Patriots lost their second straight AFC title game on Jan. 19 to the Denver Broncos, in part because star cornerback Aqib Talib was knocked out in the second quarter by former Patriot Wes Welker. Yet Belichick saw more than coincidence in that -- as he proved by flat out accusing his former player of knocking out Talib on purpose.
Belichick is regularly regarded as the least revealing coach in the NFL, but he opened up more than ever with his conspiracy theory. Without mentioning Welker by name, he said that his hit on Talib was "a deliberate play by the receiver" to take him out. He also not so subtly suggested that he would "let the league handle the discipline on that play."
Given Belichick's typically closed off nature, this out of character accusation either says something about the play, or about his state of mind. After all, the Patriots were manhandled by the Broncos both before and after Talib was hurt, have lost on two straight championship Sundays and are now nine years removed from their last Super Bowl title.
With the window of opportunity starting to close for the Patriots, Brady and Belichick -- and their big game reputation getting worse by the year -- it isn't going to be a smooth offseason in New England. The frustration may have finally made Belichick lash out to the media, despite having a day to cool down. Unlike Richard Sherman, who trashed Michael Crabtree seconds after the NFC title game, Belichick had more time to think through his words -- and still made inflammatory comments anyway.
If the Broncos were sending Welker out to get Talib hurt, it actually could have backfired on them a lot worse. Welker has already suffered two concussions, so the idea of sending the 5-foot-9 Welker to deliberately target the 6-foot-1 Talib is a flawed one on many levels. As such, Belichick's implication that the Broncos would still risk Welker that severely is even more of a low blow.
Welker and the Broncos can get the last laugh by winning the Super Bowl over Sherman's Seattle Seahawks in two weeks -- which would be an even more damming statement than anything Belichick said.