According to Ward, the Patriots' inviting, baby-soft pass defense made his return, well, unnecessary.
"I probably could have forced it and played, but we have some great wideouts," Ward told the newspaper, via The Boston Globe. "I wasn't really concerned. And against the Patriots, we felt we could exploit their secondary. That wasn't the same secondary that we played against a year ago without having (James Sanders), (Brandon Meriweather) wasn't back there and they let Leigh Bodden go. We kind of liked our matchups. So there was no need for me to try to force it and go."
New England's defense has tumbled from its glory days of old, ranking 32 out of 32 teams (bad enough to make the old guard mighty cranky). Not well-worn ground for Bill Belichick's boys. Their vulnerability against pass-happy teams looms as a continuing motif as they lean heavy on Tom Brady down the stretch to offset such a glaring weakness.
This time, maybe not.