CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz expects Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker will be fired up to face his former team, the New England Patriots, on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game and not just because a Super Bowl berth is on the line.
“He is going to be highly motivated to be a difference-maker in this game because in the first matchup this season, he made an awful mistake in the overtime and he was the first one to own up for it when they got to the locker room,” Nantz said in a conference call Tuesday.
In overtime of Denver's 34-31 loss to New England on Nov. 24, Welker, a former Heritage Hall standout, stepped away from a punt, and teammate Tony Carter ran into the ball. The Patriots recovered, setting up the game-winning field goal.
“He knew he should have stepped up and made the fair catch,” Nantz said. “After the game, he went in and said, ‘That was my fault.' I'm sure it's not going to be lost on him on Sunday. He's not only going against his old team, he has a chance to atone for what happened in the earlier matchup this year.”
Nantz, analyst Phil Simms and reporter Tracy Wolfson will call the game at 2 p.m. Sunday in Denver. On the 1 p.m. pregame show, studio analyst Shannon Sharpe, a former Denver tight end, will interview the Broncos' receivers, including Welker.
Simms said he thought the Patriots might have an edge in the matchup with Welker because they know his moves so well, but added that Welker might provide information on the Patriots' game plan.