FOXBORO -- Opinions on the Wes Welker hit that knocked Aqib Talib out of the AFC Championship game were mixed at Gillette Stadium Monday.
Head coach Bill Belichick made his feelings clear during his opening remarks, calling it "one of the worst plays I've seen."
Andre Carter, a 12-year NFL veteran, agreed.
"Was [Welker] doing his job? I'm sure he was to a certain degree," Carter said. "Do I think the hit could have been cleaner? Yes. There's no question. I've been around a lot of football to see that. At the end of the day it was a nasty play. But we'll see what happens."
Welker collided with Talib when he and fellow Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas ran crossing routes on Denver's first drive of the second quarter. It was a pick play, but one the officials deemed to be legal.
Safety Steve Gregory is one who doesn't believe Welker intended to sideline Talib.
"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."
Gregory noted pick plays are perhaps more common than people realize, and it's on the secondary to read them and react appropriately.
"The game has kind of evolved today with bunches and stacks and guys trying to create separation, especially in man coverage and things like that. Receivers try to rub routes and try to create separation for guys so the quarterback can get in there. It's kind of become part of the game nowadays.
"To what extent or not it's a flag or a penalty or things like that, I don't know. It's just something you've got to deal with."
If there's one thing everyone in the Patriots locker room can agree on, it's the impact of losing Talib. Manning threw for 400 yards on Sunday, something he's never done against a Belichick defense, and he threw for 289 of them in the final three quarters of the game with Talib on the sidelines.
"Aqib is a heck of a football player for us," 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 who's going to give you everything he's got. So you never want to lose a guy like that."