by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Have you ever seen a truffle-hunting pig in action? (If not, here’s a video). These animals root around in the dirt, looking for a rare, precious object – a fungus – that some people fail to appreciate.

We discovered this analogy as we sought out a recipient for this week’s PD Game Ball after the Patriots’ groan-inducing, foul-language-fomenting, jerk-ass effort in Miami. (We also considered the role of gold miner, sifting through the mud for one shiny speck, but the pig makes for a better visual.)

As disappointing as 2009 has been for Patriots fans, we hate to envision what it would have been like without Wes Welker. In September, New England’s 16-9 Jets loss brought a brief, Christmas-Carol-like glimpse of a Welker-less future. His 10 catches for 167 yards at Miami made the Patriots offense seem unstoppable at times, poor red zone decisions be damned.

This has become a new New England Patriots. The franchise has emulated the Dallas Cowboys a decade ago: three Super Bowls in four years, followed by brief playoff runs and disappointments. Right now you might be thinking, well if the Pats had held on in the AFC Champsionship game vs. the Colts or in the Super Bowl vs. the Giants or if Brady hadn’t gotten hurt last year…

Right. If. But the NFL frowns upon ifs. Look around the AFC East: what if Scott Norwood had made the field goal? What if a certain HC had stuck with the NYJ? What if Miami had been able to sign Drew Brees instead of Daunte Culpepper?

Nope. Can’t do it. All we can do is give thanks to Welker for setting a high bar and reaching it, year after year. For your performance on Sunday and every week, Wes Welker, we present you with the PD Game Ball, your second of the season.

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