ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos coach John Fox chose not to fire back at Bill Belichick on Monday afternoon after the New England Patriots coach inferred earlier in the day that Broncos receiver Wes Welker made a dirty hit on cornerback Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship Game.
Talib, who was covering Demaryius Thomas, was injured in a collision with Welker, who was running a crossing route by Thomas. Talib was unable to return the game.
"I don't think I can comment on that other than to say that Wes Welker is a great player. High integrity," Fox said. "I can say that we weren't doing anything with intent, so that's really the only comment I have."
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Fox went on to say that many NFL teams using crossing routes to try to find advantages in the crowded middle of the field.
"We're not the only team by any stretch. In fact, I think our opponents Sunday did the same thing," Fox said.
That was the closest Fox would get to exchanging barbs with Belichick.
Fox said he spent his morning working on Super Bowl logistics with his staff and had not seen Belichick's comments about the controversial play. Belichick made his remarks, unsolicited, during his opening statement of his morning media session.
Belichick called it "one of the worst plays I've ever seen" and said he didn't believe Welker — whom he did not call by name — made no attempt to get open.
"It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open. I'll let the league handle the discipline on that play," Belichick told reporters in Foxborough.
Welker, who was not available to reporters on Monday, described the play on Sunday evening as a "rub play."
"I was trying to get him to go over the top, and I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath," Welker said. "We just kind of collided. It wasn't a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that. I hope he's OK. He's a great player and a big part of their defense."
The Broncos were able to exploit the Patriots defense without Talib's coverage on Thomas, who caught seven passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Broncos tight end Julius Thomas said he also hadn't seen Belichick's comments but backed his teammate.
"I've known Wes for a while now, and he's definitely not that kind of guy," Thomas said. "Things happen in football, sometimes people get hurt. I don't believe that Wes would intentionally try to hurt anybody out there."
Moreno expected to play: Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno should be ready for the Super Bowl in two weeks after x-rays on his ribs came back negative.
Moreno left Sunday's AFC Championship game midway through the fourth quarter with the injury.
"He'll be day to day when we form back up on Thursday," Fox said.
With the positive news on Moreno's ribs, the Broncos managed to avoid significant injuries in their win over the Patriots without any significant injuries. Backup cornerback Tony Carter was evaluated for a concussion but Fox said that those tests were negative, and that Carter was treated for a pinched nerve.
Moreno rushed 14 times for 59 yards against the Patriots, including a 28-yard run on a draw play to set up the Broncos' first touchdown. Moreno has split time with rookie Montee Ball, so much so that Ball joined Moreno in running out of the tunnel as starters were introduced Sunday, and it was Ball who was on the field exclusively at running back the Broncos ran out the final 3:06 of the game.
Ball, who had 43 yards on 12 carries, converted a fourth down with a 5-yard run with 1:19 to allow quarterback Peyton Manning to kneel down to end the game.
"That was our scheme coming into this game – keep the ball in our hands and kill the clock and execute every play," Ball said Sunday evening. "It worked."
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