On a day when Tom Brady wasn’t at his best the Patriots needed other members of the team to step up. The entire defense picked up the slack, particularly defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. Wilfork, in his eighth season with the team, has become a three-down lineman the past few years, as he was primarily used just on first and second downs earlier in his career. Sunday was undoubtedly one of the best games of Wilfork’s career.
“I think tonight was a big night for all of us,” Wilfork said during the trophy presentation. “The fans, the organization, the coaches, the players. Everyone. It was a big, big night for us. We knew we had to come out here and play some good football to beat a good Ravens football team, and we did.”
According to the Boston Globe, Wilfork was on the field for every defensive snap except for four. Officially he had six tackles, three going for losses and he added one sack. His impact on the game goes beyond the stats, he is a force on the defensive line, getting double-teamed on many plays. Sunday he also was able to get plenty of penetration into the Ravens backfield and force bad throws from quarterback Joe Flacco.
That is just what he did on arguably the biggest play of the game on Sunday. The Patriots were clinging to a three-point lead with 2:46 left in the game and the ball on the Patriots 33 yard line. It was fourth and six and the Ravens went for it. Wilfork was able to get to Flacco and force an in-completion giving the ball back to the Patriots and preventing the Ravens from tying the game up or taking the lead.
“It’s been tough,” Wilfork said following the game. “Nothing’s been easy. We had to deal with certain things, certain situations. But this team handled them pretty well. They never give up. They’re very, very passionate about what they do. They love this game. And I could take the field with anybody like that.”
Added Wilfork: ”It was just a good football game. “You saw a great football game tonight. You saw a classic. Two football teams didn’t want to budge. A physical football team. Plays being made — but not many. Every yard was tough. That’s what you saw tonight. You saw just a great, great effort. And it came down to the last couple of seconds. Too bad someone had to lose. But I’m happy to be on the winning side.”
A few years back the Patriots were faced with the decision of resigning wither Richard Seymour or Wilfork.
The Patriots made the right choice.