How Did The New England Patriots React To Advancing To The Super Bowl?

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Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) smiles on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Vince Wilfork

Q: Vince, can you open up just commenting on what it means to have the opportunity to go back to the Superbowl?

VW: You know, 32 teams start at the same position. You start at the bottom and you kind of climb yourself up the ladder and being AFC champs, that says a lot. We put so much work this year, we grind, I mean there were times where things didn’t go so well. There were times where we played great football. It’s a rollercoaster. But just to see everything that we did up to this point, and to for it all come down to one game, the one game you all play for. Everybody plays for this game. To have a chance to win the Super Bowl, and now it’s here. There’s no more talking. It says a lot about this team. It says a lot about what we’ve done up to this point. To go out and play the way we played today, that was amazing. I mean, from all three phases. We knew it was going to be tough. These guys are playing good football, led by a great quarterback… been playing well down the road and we knew we had to get off to a good start and play Patriot football. And I think the night was a great way to answer that. Playing from ahead, being able to play good defense, good special teams, good offense, just everything coming together at the right time. To play this good in the AFC Championship, it gives you some confidence going into the Super Bowl, where we know if we play like this, teams will have problems with us, and we know if we play like this we give yourselves a good shot at winning. So that’s what it is. We got the Seahawks. To be a champ, you got to beat the champs, and they’re sitting right there waiting for us. So it’s going to be a good game. They played some great football. They’re champs, they are the champs. They are the defending champs, and they’re coming. They’re going to try and protect that, and our job is to go and try and take it away from them. I think you’ve got the best two teams playing in this game. I think from a staff standpoint, you can’t ask for a better game than this. From the NFC, AFC…two good organizations, two good teams being able to slug it out for one champion, and that’s what it’s all about. So we got to get ready to go. It’s going to be tough, but like I said, to be a champ, you got to beat the champ.

Q: Vince, all week long you had confidence and your teammates had confidence that you were going to win this game. Did you know or did you think that this game would be that lopsided? 45-7?

VW: No, I didn’t. I mean, going into the game you never know what the final score is going to be, but you know, I just knew if we played well, we would win the ballgame. And at this point, I don’t care how you win, you want to win, and tonight we showed that we can play some real good football if we playing together, as a team, as one. Before we took the field that’s the main thing Bill said was ‘let’s play as one today.’ And we took those words and we executed well, executed at a high level. We played well, and that’s what it’s going to take to be successful at this level against a good football team in Seattle. We’re going to have to be able to execute the way we did tonight, and you know, and if we don’t do that, we’ll have problems. I mean, they’re champs for a reason, so we have to be at our best. It’s nothing, you can’t hold anything back now. They want to win, we want to win. We want to be Super Bowl champs, they want to be Super Bowl champs and it all boils down to who plays the best, who capitalizes on the opportunities. There won’t be many opportunities, not at this time of the year. But the time you do have them, you have to take advantage of them. You just have to do that moving forward. But everything starts with a great week of preparation. You have two weeks to prepare, so we’ll have to have two weeks of great practice to be successful and have the confidence that we’re ready to go come game day.

Q: I don’t know how much of the first game you guys got to pay attention to, but it was a pretty crazy finish up in Seattle, and just staying a little bit on what makes them so hard to execute against, or as you say, what makes them such a tough matchup?

VW: I mean, I haven’t looked at film on them all year but that’s because we don’t play them. So we’ll start that tomorrow. But they’re champions for a reason. They do a lot of things well. And for us to be successful against them, we’re going to have to be able to do some things well against them so we’ll watch film, we’ll start watching some film tomorrow, get a jump on them and see which way we want to go, how we want to attack, what’s their strengths, what’s their weaknesses and go from there. But not playing a team it’s kind of hard to understand who they truly are but the only thing I do know is that they’re defending champs, and they’re champs for a reason so they must be doing something right and we’re going to have to be able to prepare well and execute at a high level against them to be successful.

Q: Vince, as meaningful as every conference championship has been for you, considering what happened last year in Atlanta and your experience coming back from injury, is this one especially meaningful, especially gratifying for you?

VW: It’s special just because you fight so hard, not just as an individual. Me being out last year, it sucked to see my team lose in the AFC Championship last year and my goal was to come back and help this team to get to where we didn’t get last year and to be at this level, to play at this level and to be in this game and win and walk off the field and have the guys so excited about this feeling, that’s what it’s all about. It was never about how well I can come back because at the end of the day I’m a football player. Not once I never thought about how would I play or would I be afraid to take a step or take on double team or do this. My main goal was to get healthy and help this team win ballgames. And for the most part we’ve done a great job of that, not just myself but this whole team. The coaching staff put us in some good situations. So, that’s what it’s all about for me, especially because it’s the AFC Championship and you get the chance to play for one ultimate goal, to win a Super Bowl. That’s why it’s special. Not from anything previous to that but to be grinding ever since April, and all of a sudden it comes down to one game, and that’s the one game we all play for. So you have to be excited about that. So I tell my guys all the time, and I told them today. I said, ‘You tell me we can’t win one more game?’ You know and that’s the mindset that I have. It’s just one more game. Can we win one more game? We know it’s going to be tough. It should be tough. They’re a great football team, and like I said they’re defending champs for a reason. So it’s going to be tough. Yeah, they’re going to make some plays, but we have to be able to execute at a high level. If we do that, we’ll be okay. But we have two weeks to prepare for them, and hopefully in those two weeks we’ll get the confidence and we’ll get everything nailed down that we want to do and go out on game day and perform at a high level.

Q: Vince, I know that not all of your teammates have been to a Super Bowl, but having lost the Super Bowl a couple of times, does that actually become a motivating factor coming in, to avoid that feeling?

VW: No. I don’t think those Super Bowls have anything to do with this one. Being there and losing, you don’t think about it. Been there three times, and the organization ever since 2000 has been there five times, you know. Won three of them. So it’s special. It’s a special moment. When you go into a ballgame you don’t look at previous years. You look at now. What we have to do to win now, because those teams that we played, it’s just a different opponent, and you have to be able to see that and understand that and see what you can do to be successful. And that’s what it’s going to be. I won’t think one time about being in the previous Super Bowls that I’ve been in. I’ve been in three and lost two and won one. It’s different. Every season is different. Every team is different. My teammates are different. Coaches are different. Everything is different, so you really can’t dwell over how many you won, how many you lost. It’s all about now. To be a champ, you got to beat the champ, and that’s our goal. That’s the challenge for us, to be able to go in there and beat the champ, and I’m pretty sure their goal is to defend their Super Bowl. So it’s going to be a good matchup.