Welker's records go to waste in loss


Welker's records go to waste in loss

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- When a guy like Wes Welker breaks receiving records, you'd think it would be in a win.

No such luck.

Welker had a career-high 217 yards in New England's 34-31 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. That number is also a franchise-best, better than Terry Glenn's 1999 mark of 214. And his 16 catches tied Troy Brown's single-game total from 2002.

Blowing a 21-0 second-quarter lead en route to a divisional heartbreaker, however, isn't a great way to celebrate.

"It pretty much detracts everything. We lost the game," Welker said afterward. "What should be a great, fun day of breaking records and doing all those things has turned totally the opposite."

But Welker wasn't crying for himself and his two touchdown catches. He knows better than to dwell on individual effort -- good or bad. And there was a whole lot of bad for the good he did, anyway.

"I think the turnovers really killed us in the end," he said. "We were able to do some good things out there and moved the ball pretty well and things like that. We get in key positions, we can't turn the ball over and make some of those mistakes and pick sixes and different things like that. We didn't play very good complimentary football with each other."

Buffalo's 'D' had some excellent breaks against Tom Brady.

For all the yardage the Patriots quarterback racked up with Welker, he found trouble elsewhere. Brady threw four interceptions at Ralph Wilson Stadium -- as many as he had in the entire 2010 regular season. That number is a big reason why Welker's production went to waste.

"I think any time you turn the ball over, especially in some of the situations we were in, it's never good. It's never good for your psyche, it's never good for the team, it's never good for scoring points," Welker acknowledged.

He also made a point to reemphasize the team as a unit, and its responsibility for the loss.

"This isn't just on Tom," Welker said. "It's everybody getting on the same page and understanding that we're in this together and we all need to make plays and we're all accountable for it.

"Buffalo's a tough football team and they played really well," he said. "They kept fighting and you've got to give them all the credit."

Unfortunately for Welker, even after his tremendous night of work, everybody will.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.