â†µThough the Patriots pulled their starters for portions of their Week 17 game against the Texans, many starters did play the majority of the game. This includes Wes Welker, who sustained a season-ending injury. There's no questioning that Welker's loss hurt New England's offensive attack, but was it the reason they lost to the Ravens? Absolutely not. â†µâ†µ
â†µSo questioning the Pats for not taking the Colts approach is dumb. After all, Peyton Manning saw about the same amount of playing time in the snow against the Bills. All it takes is one play for him to go down. â†µâ†µ
â†µTo the Welker point: it's true that he can provide a handy escape valve for Tom Brady, it should be noted that his replacement at slot receiver, Julian Edelman, performed admirably all the tasks we've come to expect from the Pats more heralded diminutive receiver. In fact, while Brady was forcing throws on the run and other receivers were dropping passes, Edelman looked like the most smoothly operating component on the offense, scoring two touchdowns and making what few big plays that New England's attack could generate. â†µâ†µ
â†µGranted, there are players who put up stellar performances in the Wild Card round after being rested Week 17. Kurt Warner and Cedric Benson are the most salient examples. Then again, the Cardinals, despite sitting players in Week 17, were hit by injuries to Anquan Boldin and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, yet were still able to come away with a thrilling victory. â†µâ†µ
â†µMeanwhile, the other quarterbacks who played significant stretches in Week 17 maintained that pace through the first weekend of the postseason. Aaron Rodgers thrived in a losing effort. Carson Palmer, after doing next to nothing in a half of play in Week 17, accomplished almost less in a full game against the Jets. McNabb faltered for a second week straight while Romo finished burying the Eagles with another solid effort. â†µâ†µ
â†µEasy though it may be to imagine what may have been had one player not gone down, teams with momentum going into the playoffs kept it and moved on, and those without it are by and large gone, whether or not they could explain it away with an untimely injury. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.