FOXBORO -- As soon as Patriots receiver Wes Welker said it's nice to stick a great on-field performance "in Bill Belichick's face," he probably knew it was a mistake. No matter how innocent his intentions may or may not have been.
Welker let the quip fly Sunday night after catching 13 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown against Denver.
By early Monday evening, his regret was forced on display.
"It was a joke," he told reporters. "I don't know what else to say about it. It was a joke.
"Bill and I, whether y'all believe it or not, have a good relationship. It was a joke and I'll make sure to keep that in house going forward."
He punctuated that last sentence with an eye roll.
Some will argue Welker should have known better. He got benched in 2010's divisional playoff against the Jets after making 11 references to Rex Ryan's alleged foot fetish in a press conference.
And he might remember teammate Tom Brady saying, "I'm not joking any more this year" in 2011 after his previous week's instruction for Patriots fans to get "lubed up" and rowdy for a home game turned into a PR nightmare.
"You've just got to be careful with what you say," Welker said, a look of annoyance alighting on his features. "Bill does a great job of challenging us and being a great coach and doing things necessary that he needs to do. I made a joke about it and it won't happen again."
As for any fallout -- another benching, maybe -- Welker said he's not expecting repercussions from the coach.
"I don't think so at all. We're just concentrating on Seattle this week and getting ready for the game."
Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.
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2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath
13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell
27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy
32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship
36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences
44:50 Matt Light interview
FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most.
That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.
"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."
The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that.
"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."
And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.