MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - It was another successful "homecoming" for Wes Welker.
The Patriots receiver caught 11 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Dallas Cowboys last weekend. Those established career bests in all three categories for Welker, who played his college ball at Texas Tech.
Yesterday, Welker returned to Miami. He spent the previous three seasons playing for the Dolphins before being dealt to New England for a pair of draft picks in March. And he made himself right at home while posting some impressive and productive numbers.
The elusive Welker reeled in nine passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Patriots rolled to a 49-28 victory at Dolphin Stadium. He led the team in receptions and tied Randy Moss in the touchdown department while establishing a career high in receiving yards.
"It was good to get back here and see some familiar faces and some of the guys I used to play with," Welker said. "It was good to get back here and even better to get a win."
The Patriots improved to 7-0 thanks to another in a season-long series of impressive offensive displays. They were particularly potent in the first half, piling up 336 yards and 42 points.
It was Welker's first touchdown catch, a 14-yarder with 25 seconds left in the half, that accounted for the last of those points and a mind-bending 42-7 lead. That capped a six-play, 71-yard drive that took all of 66 seconds.
"Any time you can score before the half, that's a good time to get a touchdown," Welker said. "And toward the end of the game, to get in the end zone to kind of close it out was good to see."
Welker's second score came with 8:11 to play and was a quick response to a brief run by the Dolphins in which the deficit was sliced to 42-21. The catch-and-run covered 16 yards and Welker really worked hard the final few steps to get into the end zone.
But hard work is a characteristic Welker has displayed throughout his five NFL seasons. As generally is the case, there's more to it than that.
"He's a hard worker and extremely smart," said running back Heath Evans, who was a teammate of Welker's in Miami for part of the 2005 season.
"He's picked up this offense quickly. You match his mental toughness with his physical toughness and you can see why he's stepped right in."
Welker said he doesn't know the reasons behind his being moved by Miami. He acknowledged the game can be a business.
The fact the Patriots are 7-0 and the Dolphins 0-7 certainly has eased the transition.
"I think everyone wants to win and be on a winning team," Welker said. "So in that instance, yeah, I'm glad I'm winning."
Welker leads the Patriots with 47 receptions and is rapidly closing in on the career-best 67 he had during his breakout season a year ago. He's second to Moss with 524 receiving yards and has five touchdowns in seven games. The modest Welker credited quarterback Tom Brady and Moss for contributing to his continued development this season.
"They are both really smart players," Welker said. "They talk about the game and I sit there and eavesdrop and try to learn as much as I can. They do a great job of getting signals going, making sure everything is on the right page and is clicking right."
As for the way the offense clicked in the first half, Welker wouldn't go so far as to say it was the best 30 minutes of football he had ever been a part of or a witness to.
"Every time you go out there, there are going to be some imperfections and some things you can get better at," he said. "We're always looking for that edge to get better. I don't know, it's hard to really say if it was the best because I feel we can do a lot better."