BY NICK ST. DENIS
The cards were stacked against the New England Patriots from the start. Once cornerback Aqib Talib went down, the cards did, too.
Talib, the Patriots' top cover guy, was injured in the second quarter of his team's AFC Championship bout with the high-powered Denver Broncos. Talib never returned to the game, and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning went on to tear through New England's secondary.
"That was a key play in the game," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game, ESPN Boston.
Talib hurt his knee on the play, which was the result of a collision with Broncos receiver Wes Welker. Some are interpreting the collision as a dirty play by Welker -- a "pick" of sorts -- but Welker insists that it was unintentional.
YouTube it, and you be the judge.
Talib wouldn't get into specifics about what happened on the field, claiming he "couldn't even remember how the play went."
Regardless, the impact of his absence for the majority of the game was felt by his team.
"It was very tough," cornerback Alfonzo Dennard said. "After he went out, they attacked. It was very hard."
Manning went on to throw for 400 yards, and the Broncos ended six straight drives with points after punting on their opening possession.
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