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Vince Wilfork on D&H: Pats’ turnaround started after Browns debacle

01.03.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork had his weekly conversation with the Dale & Holley show on Patriots Monday, one day after the Pats closed out the regular season with a 38-7 domination of the Dolphins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Wilfork was flagged for a personal foul during Sunday’s game but only had time for a brief explanation from the referee who made the call. “He said something about me hitting to the head,” Wilfork said. “I don’t know if I did or didn’t. I’ve seen a little clip of it and it didn’t seem like I did. I don’t know. I don’t know. The only thing I can continue to do is play ball.

“I don’t think it was anything dirty from my part. When I went in, I didn’t intend to hit him in the head. ‘€¦ We know how everything is with protection of players. A rule is a rule. So, if I did hit him in his helmet, we’ll have to take it up with the league. It really didn’t bother me as much. But a penalty is a penalty at the same time.”

Asked when the Patriots turned the corner this season, Wilfork pointed to Nov. 7. “I think it was after the Cleveland game,” he said. “That whole week going into that game, we didn’t practice well. Every day was a mistake. There were things we were making mistakes on that we had been doing all year, ever since OTAs. That week was a crazy week for us.

“To go out there on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns ‘€¦ they just basically did whatever they wanted to us. We knew exactly what they wanted to do, and it seemed like we didn’t respond. We didn’t respond at all. I think after that game, it was a gut-check time for us. We knew a lot of things that we did in that game, we wouldn’t have been able to win any game.

“I think from that week on, I think guys really buckled down. I think we started trusting one another, trusting the system. From a whole team standpoint, including the coaching staff, everybody pulled themselves closer to one goal. And that one goal was winning.”

Wilfork is credited as one of the leaders of the team, but he says he doesn’t do much talking. “I’m not a big talker,” he said. “At times where I need to say something or I see something that needs to be done, that’s not getting done the way we want it to get done, I voice my opinion.

“We have guys I respect to death ‘€” Tommy [Brady] is one of them, Kevin Faulk, [Deion] Branch ‘€¦ [Dan] Koppen and [Matt] Light, those guys, Jerod [Mayo] ‘€” guys that have been around for a while. I don’t think we have too many problems where we have to go out and just yell and talk all the time. Because I think a lot of guys see us work. The harder you work, the more you get out of it. Not just by yourself. Guys see that. Guys see their leaders out there putting in the work. End of the season, you’re in the weight room. End of the season, we’re in after practice. I think guys see that, and that motivates those guys.

“So, at times, yeah, I may say something. But I’m more of a sit back, chill and go to work and let my work speak for itself than a talker.”

Brandon Spikes is set to return to the team following his four-game suspension for using a banned substance. Wilfork said the rookie linebacker will be welcomed back. “It’s up to that guy to address the team and how he wants to do it. It’s up to him,” Wilfork said. “But I think as a team, yes, we’re going to welcome him with open arms. Everybody makes mistakes in their lifetime, in their career. He’s a rookie. He made a bogus mistake. I’m pretty sure he’ll apologize, and we’ll move forward. But we’re not holding anything over his head, because that’s a guy that can definitely help us. He means a lot to this team, this organization.

“I can’t wait to get him back, from a defensive lineman’s standpoint. I can’t want to get him back, and I’m excited for him to get back. And knowing Brandon, trust me, these four weeks have been like a year for him. And I’m pretty sure he’s going to be excited to get back.”

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