CBS said during the game broadcast that Welker was being punished for a Thursday news conference in which he made about a dozen references to toes and feet, a not-so-subtle reference to recent foot-fetish reports involving Ryan. Asked why Welker didn't start, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "I don't have any comment on that."
Welker would neither confirm nor deny that he was benched.
Although the Patriots have long tried to cultivate a buttoned-down, businesslike personality, Welker broke character when he met with reporters on Thursday and dropped in repeated references to "putting your best foot forward," "sticking your toe in the water" and "being good little foot soldiers."
Ryan said he was not offended.
"Anything goes this week," he said. "That's the way it is."
But Jets cornerback Bart Scott said on Friday that Welker's "days in a uniform are numbered" and, when asked to clarify, said: "I meant that I was going to try and take my helmet and try to ram it through his chest."
An NFL official warned both teams about the trash-talking. But after the game, Scott was unapologetic.
"I can take comments however I choose to," said Scott, who also played for Ryan in Baltimore. "That's my privilege. I took offense to it. I handled it that way, and I stand behind my words. ... And if I get another opportunity, let him come through the middle, and I'm going try to put him through the ground."
Welker missed New England's only playoff game last year after blowing out his knee in a meaningless end-of-season game. But he returned from reconstructive surgery on the ligaments in his left knee in time for the 2010 season opener, giving Brady one of his favorite targets.
Welker, who caught more than 100 passes in each of the previous three years, had 86 catches for 848 yards and seven touchdowns this season. On Sunday, he sat out New England's opening drive, which ended when David Harris picked off Brady.
He finished with seven catches for 57 yards.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press