Rob Ninkovich on M&M: Wes Welker pick on Aqib Talib ‘just wasn’t a good play’
|01.20.14 at 1:55 pm ET|
Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Monday, following Sunday’s loss to the Broncos in the AFC championship game. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“They’re a great offense,” Ninkovich said of the Broncos. “You’ve got to give them credit for the things that they’re able to do. They’ve got a lot of weapons that they’re able to spread around the field, run their pick routes, run the things they do best, get the ball out of their hands fast. They just played better and they deserve to move on. You’ve got to give them credit. You can’t take away anything from the fact that they were a better team on that day.”
Added Ninkovich: “We just didn’t do the things that we needed to do to win the game. I’m not one to make any excuses. Their team played better on that particular day.”
The Patriots weren’t able to mount any pressure on Peyton Manning, but Ninkovich said it has more to do with the quarterback’s quick release than anything else.
“When the ball comes out in a second, you could be unblocked and you’re still not going to get to him,” Ninkovich said. “There’s probably, I could count on my hand the number of times he threw the ball farther than 15 yards. Everything was to the flat, crossing routes, pick routes over the middle. So again, you’re not going to get pressure on him if he’s throwing the ball that quickly.”
“I really don’t want to get into whatever happened on that play. I think Bill already spoke about it and said how he saw it,” Ninkovich said. “Obviously, you don’t want to see a guy get hurt, especially a key defender.
“It’s a big football field out there. It’s a big enough field where you can avoid somebody. It was a pick play. Obviously it was man coverage and they ran a cross very tightly, and Welker happened to just hit Aqib in the knee, which wasn’t good for him finishing the game, and obviously he got hurt. Anytime that happens it’s never a good thing.”
Ninkovich was hesitant to go as far as Belichick, who called it “one of the worst plays I’ve seen.”
Said Ninkovich: “Bill talked about it, and I don’t really want to weigh [in] on that. It just wasn’t a good play.”
The Broncos passing game started to pick up once Talib left the game.
“Definitely personnel-wise when you lose your best cover corner, that’s going to affect you,” Ninkovich said. “Whenever you lose a key defender, it’s not going to help you win a football game. Losing Aqib definitely hurt us.”
The Patriots surprised many people by reaching the AFC championship game despite losing a handful of starters to injuries during the course of the season. Ninkovich, however, said the players weren’t surprised at their success.
“I think obviously we achieved more than what everybody else thought we could achieve,” he said. “Us knowing our capabilities on the football field, what we could do as a team and a unit, I think we knew that we could be successful. But I don’t think many other outside people gave us a chance.”
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