Vince Wilfork delivers in AFC Championship victory
Jan/23/12 08:42 AM Filed in: Vince Wilfork
FOXBOROUGH -- Vince Wilfork spent his Sunday night controlling the line of scrimmage, earning six tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack during New England's 23-20 AFC Championship victory against the Baltimore Ravens. But it was the timing of Wilfork's plays, more than the quantity of them, which set his performance apart.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Ravens faced third and three on the Patriots 30-yard line. Almost as soon as Ray Rice received the hand off, Wilfork snuffed the run three yards behind the line of scrimmage. That forced a Baltimore fourth down, and the lost yardage also might have encouraged Baltimore to go for a first down rather than attempting a field goal.
Wilfork struck again on the fourth down, grabbing Flacco's shirt and forcing an errant pass that gave New England possession.
"I thought Vince had a lot of big plays today," said Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach later added, "He leads the way for us on defense – he and Jerod (Mayo). Vince is obviously our most experienced player and he's been a great leader, great captain all year."
"I knew it was going to happen," said linebacker Brandon Spikes of Wilfork's dominant night. "All through the week he was taking steps – getting us together as a whole unit, doing all the smaller things, all the extra stuff that made sure we were ready for this game. His performance just says it all. If you put in the work, that's the outcome you get."