DENVER -- The plan for tight end Benjamin Watson was to stay on the left side of the line and protect quarterback Tom Brady. But when Brady's pass in the end zone was picked off by Denver's Champ Bailey, Watson knew he had to do something.
As Bailey raced down the sideline after stepping in front of a pass intended for Troy Brown in the end zone, he kept passing fallen Patriots. But just as Bailey was about to stretch the ball into the end zone, Watson appeared almost out of nowhere to knock the ball loose and knock Bailey out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
''I just didn't want to let him score," Watson said. ''I thought we had knocked him out of bounds once, so I slowed up just a bit but he was still going so I kept going."
Watson's hustle almost prevented a touchdown. It was unclear when he knocked the ball loose. If the ball had gone through the end zone for a touchback, the Patriots would have gotten the ball at the 20, trailing only 10-6.
Instead, a replay challenge upheld the call and Denver had the ball on the 1 and scored a play later for a 17-6 lead as the third quarter ended.
''I didn't really get to see the replay," Watson said. ''But from the angle I saw, it was hard to tell. That's why they pay the referees a lot of money to make those calls."
But none of those thoughts were going through Watson's mind. ''I just thought it was better to catch him," he said.
Watson is no stranger to Bailey. They played in college at Georgia but not at the same time. Watson did play with Bailey's younger brother, Boss.
''I'm a Georgia guy, we can run," Watson said.