O'Brien, who has since moved on to coach Penn State's football program, told The Boston Globe that critics of Welker for dropping a Tom Brady pass that would have extended a drive in the fourth quarter have been way off base.
"That wasn't a drop," O'Brien said. "That would have been a tremendous catch, and he should never think twice about that. And it had nothing to do with us losing the game. There were many, many plays before that where we could have made better coaching decisions, and better plays. That's just one play of many."
"Definitely," O'Brien responded, when asked if Welker had been criticized unfairly for the play.
"I would tell (Patriots fans) they should be very grateful, I'm sure they are, to have a player like Wes Welker as a Patriot," O'Brien said. "He is what Boston is all about, in my opinion. He's a hard-working guy, he's a tough guy, he's an honest guy, nothing was ever given to him … he's what Boston is all about.
The incompletion occurred on second-and-11 with 4:06 left in the game and the Patriots leading, 17-15. They would eventually lose, 21-17.
"Probably the first play of the game, call a different play," he said, adding "If I could change one, I would change that one. But there's a lot of plays that we always look back on in any game, especially games you lose, that you always think you could have done a better job on.
"It just wasn't a good start. It's not why we lost the game, I want to make sure I'm clear on that, but all year we had started pretty well for the most part. That wasn't a good start."