Tony Carter on fateful punt: ‘One of those freakish things that happened’
|11.25.13 at 2:18 am ET|
Following both teams not doing anything with their first two possessions in the overtime period, with just over three minutes left, Patriots punter Ryan Allen booted one inside the Patriots 20-yard line towards Broncos return man Wes Welker. Of the 170 total plays ran in the game, this particular one, thought as of the simplest ones became the play that ultimately decided the final outcome.
Instead of coming up and making the catch, Welker did not, which allowed the ball to bounce in front of him. On most occasions the ball would seemingly bounce harmlessly dead, but on this particular one it skipped into Broncos cornerback Tony Carter‘s leg and Patriots backup safety Nate Ebner pounced on the loose ball, recovering it for the Patriots, which set up Stephen Gostkowski‘s game-winning, 31-yard field goal in the Patriots’ 34-31 win over the Broncos.
‘I felt like there was a lot of traffic, high ball, and basically I didn’t want to get into a situation where someone is running into me or anything else and we ended up with a situation that I didn’t want to happen in the first place,” Welker said. ‘I have to do a better job of getting up there and getting those guys out of the way and making sure it doesn’t hit them.’
Welker noted the call to alert his teammates to get out of the way of the ball, as they cannot see the punt since they are blocking and setting up a potential return, is ‘Peter, Peter’ and acknowledged he may have been a bit indecisive when making the call, leading to the ball hitting Carter.
‘I have to get to him earlier and tell him,’ Welker said. ‘I need to get those guys out of the way if I am not going to make the catch. I was a bit in between and you can’t be that way.’
For Carter, who is in his fifth season and evidently played for the Patriots in 2010, he heard the call but everything happened so fast there wasn’t much he could do.
‘I heard it, but it is one of those things that happened so fast that it is hard to react to,’ Carter said. ‘You don’t know where the ball is going to bounce. It is just one of those freakish things that happened and it was a big play for them.’
Ebner, who didn’t see anytime at safety during the game, called it being ‘just right place at the right time.’
‘You’ve just got to be ready whenever it comes up and whenever your number is called. You’ve just got to be ready to make a play,’ the second-year player out of Ohio State said.
In a game between two of the best quarterbacks the game has ever seen, which turned into one of the most thrilling games in recent memory, it goes to show that even the most basic of plays can be the difference between winning and losing.