Wes Welker was spectacular again on Sunday, as if I need to tell anyone that. His 10 catches for 105 yards were enormous — accounting for more than half of Brady’s 192 passing yards — and his approach to the game may have been even more meaningful.
Go back to that big hit he took on a 6-yard catch from Charles Godfrey in the third quarter. And realize that was his first of five catches for 64 yards on the Patriots’ 96-yard touchdown march.
“He’s a backyard football player,” Panthers safety Chris Harris said. “He runs his routes like we used to play in the streets – If I’m on the left side of you, I’m gonna break to the right. If I’m on the right side of you, I’m gonna break to the left. He does a great job doing it.”
Both Harris and Chris Gamble agreed that Welker’s the toughest Patriot to find a way to stop, with his array of option routes and his aptitude in scramble situations.
“He’s gonna get open,” Gamble said. “You think you got him covered, he’s gonna get his release, and break your man-to-man. He’s a good receiver, always fighting, a good blocker – Always has that fight, wants the ball, makes plays.”
And that fight allows Welker to make the big catches in the big spots, and also do all the little things necessary.
“He’s got a lot of heart,” coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s a heck of a football player. He shows up every day to work. I know he’s been banged up, but he fights through it, returns punts, catches the ball, blocks. He goes into the corner after the puck, too. He’s not just scoring goals; he’s going in there and digging it out in the corner.
“He’s a tough football player. He reminds me a lot of another slot receiver that we had here for a longtime, kind of the same way.”
Belichick, of course, was referencing Troy Brown.
Veteran corner Shawn Springs chose another player to compare him to. And if you know what the Redskins team that Springs was once a part of thought of Sean Taylor, you understand that comparing anyone to late ex-Pro Bowler is high praise.
“He’s inspiring,” Springs said of Welker. “He’s very tough. He’s a great football player. I admire Wes. I’m glad on a team with a guy like that. Guys like him, he motivates you. He has that Sean Taylor effect. You play with a guy often, and you just be like, ‘man, you don’t want to let a guy like that down.’ When I see Wes, I kind of get that feeling.”