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Vince Wilfork on Big Show: ‘I hope [Ndamukong Suh] has someone in his corner’

11.28.11 at 3:45 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork made his weekly appearance on The Big Show on Monday afternoon to discuss the Patriots’ defensive effort in Sunday’s 38-20 win over the Eagles. Philadelphia scored on its first two drives of the game, but the Patriot defense stepped up its game from that point on, holding the Eagles to just a field goal for the rest of the first half and the third quarter before giving up a touchdown in garbage time in the fourth quarter.

Wilfork said the defense was well prepared and never saw the Eagles do anything the Patriots had not prepared for in practice. He did mention, however, that the Eagles neglected to do something the Patriots expected out of them.

“One thing they didn’t show that we thought we were going to get a lot of was screens,” Wilfork said. “This team is a real good screen team, and we got one [screen play]. But we were on high alert. Every time we got down on second-and-long or third-and-long, everybody was alert for a screen play because [LeSean] McCoy is such a big part of that offense. The tight end, a big, big part of their passing game.

“But we only got one. So we made the adjustment in the second half. We were going to start rushing a little more. We didn’t too much worry about the screens at the end, and I think once we did that, we started getting a little bit of more pass rush to Vince Young and we started to make some things happen.”

Wilfork also spoke, albeit indirectly, about the controversial Ndamukong Suh play from Thanksgiving Day in which Suh was ejected from the Lions game against the Packers for stomping on Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith‘s arm.

Wilfork refused to comment specifically on the play. Instead, he shared his experience from an NFL hearing back in 2008 when Wilfork was nearly suspended for a late hit to then-Denver quarterback Jay Cutler‘s head. Wilfork avoided a suspension after his wife, Bianca went to New York and spoke with commissioner Roger Goodell, presenting him with a video that showed a less malicious angle of the play and explaining more about  Wilfork’s character to the commissioner.

Wilfork said he hopes Suh has that same kind of support from those closest to him.

“My way of going about it was, I had a bunch of support from my team, from the organization, from my players, teammates, coaches and my wife,” Wilfork said. “We had a support staff in place where when we went through it, we went through it. But at the same time, it was something that we got over. We moved on. I’ve been pretty clean ever since.

“It’s however they decide to do it. I don’t take anything away from that guy’s game. He’s a hell of a player, but I hope he has someone in his corner that can just guide him in the right direction, whatever that may be. If he listens, he listens. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. You definitely need a supporting cast. I can just only speak from what I had, from this organization down, from my coaches, from my teammates to my wife. I had the biggest supporting cast that someone can ask for when it came down to that, so I’m going to leave it at that.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the The Big Show audio on demand page.On how Wilfork changed his ways after his near-suspension: “I’ve been in the league for eight years now, and over the years, I’ve learned sometimes the hard way, but at the same time, you have to learn. Whatever you have to do to be a better player and a better person, you have to make those changes, if you agree with them or not. That’s the one way I coped with it. I had to go in and watch film on myself and see how I can change, alter my game a little bit so I can stay away from dumb stuff, and it worked.

“It’s up to the individual. It comes down to the individual, how you want to approach that. But you have a lot of emotions flying, and I’m speaking from a defensive standpoint. It’s like we the only ones getting fined. It’s like everything that we do, we’re getting fined, illegal hits, you have to hit this guy here, you have to do this here. So it’s tough on a defensive player, but it is a fine line of a dumb, dumb, dumb penalty and a borderline penalty.”

On what the Patriots defense likes to be able to do to an opposing offense: “When you can line up and you have a team doing one thing or another, either running ball or throwing the ball, it always works in your favor. But when a team can stay balanced and a team can play the game they want to play, that’s when you have problems. That’s one thing we try to do. We try to get a team one-dimensional so we can peel our ears back and rush. We have some good guys that can go out there and get after the quarterback, and it’s been helping us this year. …The more we can get guys into third and long in a passing situation, it’s going to work in our favor too because I like the match-ups that we have.”

On the team’s attitude going into a game against the 0-11 Colts: “We’re not going to slack off just because we’re playing a team that hasn’t won a game, because it would make their season to come in and beat us, point blank. So we have to have a chip on our shoulder saying we don’t want you to make your season by coming in here and getting your first victory against us. …Once the lights come on on Sunday, you know what, that 0-and-whatever? It’s out the window. It’s the Colts against the Patriots. And we know over the course of the years, they have been a battle, a bitter rivalry. Just because they haven’t won a game yet, to me it won’t change. It’s still a rivalry. It’s still the Colts. It’s still the Patriots.”

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