Patriots corner Aqib Talib said he couldn't "even remember how the play went" when Broncos receiver Wes Welker ran into him full speed across the middle of the field in the second quarter of the AFC Championship.
The play knocked Talib out of the game and significantly hampered New England's ability to try to rein in Denver's offensive weapons.
Welker remembered the hit and told reporters after the game that he never intended to injure Talib. He said he never even wanted to collide with the top Patriots corner.
"It was one of those plays where it was kind of a rough play and I was trying to get him to go over the top," Welker said. "I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided. It wasn't a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that.
“I hope he’s OK. He’s a great player and a big part of their defense.”
All season, both the Broncos and Patriots had some success running "pick" plays or "rubs" where two receivers run some kind of crossing pattern close together in order to slow down -- or, sometimes, make contact with -- opposing defenders.
Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was called for a penalty on a similar play before Welker took out Talib.
So did the Patriots harbor any hard feelings for their former teammate after the game? According to Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardi, several Patriots players went out of their way to meet up with Welker on the field to shake his hand or hug him.
Welker sought out Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the game as and spoke with him briefly.