Vince Wilfork: ‘I promise you, we will regret’ slow starts
|12.29.11 at 5:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork is well aware of what the last two games have been like in the first quarter.
The Patriots were run over for 170 yards by the Broncos as they raced out to a 16-7 lead in the Mile High Air. Then the Broncos gave them three second-quarter fumbles and the game turned on a dime.
Last week, the Dolphins were cruising, 17-0, at halftime and still in control, 17-3, midway through the third before Wilfork turned the tide by recovering a Matt Moore fumble in Miami territory. The game changed and the Patriots recovered just in time for a 27-24 win.
Are the Patriots capable of generating game-changing turnovers on demand? Are they that good?
“It’s not that simple,” Wilfork said. “But at times, we do talk about certain things. One thing I always say, ‘We have to make a play.’ Last week, it was like it was just flat. I just kept preaching to the guys, ‘We just have to step up. It’s just going to take one play to get us going,’ which it was. One play got us going. When the play was made, everybody was like, ‘OK, it’s football time.’
“We can’t do that. Being down two weeks in a row, you can’t do that going forward. I promise you, we will regret it if we go out to a slow start and you’re down, 21-17, 14-0, that’s tough, that’s tough to come back from. But once again, it’s shows you this team, it shows you the type of people we have in this locker room. It shows you the confidence we have in one another and the whole coaching staff. We didn’t panic, we kept our poise and we pulled it out. We can’t keep doing that because eventually it will catch up to us.”
It seems like an eternity ago when the Patriots were leading the Bills, 21-0 in the first half in Orchard Park in Week 3.
Then Tom Brady – for one of the few times in his future Hall of Fame career – turned into an interception machine, giving the Bills new life and their offense short fields against the Patriots D.
The Patriots fell to Buffalo for the first time since Week 1 of 2003. It’s a memory that lingers with defensive captain Wilfork.
‘I’m on to Buffalo and these guys, we owe them one,’ said Wilfork. ‘They beat us earlier this season. Pretty sure they’re riding high coming in. They haven’t been beating us a lot lately, but I’m pretty sure that feels good lately to come in and sweep us and win two game sand regardless of the records. To be able to come in and sweet a division rival, pretty sweet. So, I’m pretty sure they coming in, thinking they have a real good shot, which they do.’
As a matter of fact, the Patriots haven’t been swept by an AFC East team since 2000, when the Dolphins and Jets both turned the trick. Back on Sept. 25 of this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick outdueled Brady, throwing for 369 yards on 27-of-40 passing, with two TDs and two interceptions.
“At times, they don’t turn the ball over, they couldn’t be stopped, they couldn’t be stopped,” Wilfork said. “Even with us the first game, they turned the ball over two times but they came back in the second half and lit us up.”
Brady’s four interceptions overshadowed his 387 yards and four touchdown passes.
‘Their offense is very explosive,’ Wilfork said. ‘They score a lot of points, they have a lot of big plays. We are going to have to come with our A-game. Definitely going to have to play well, defend everything and see what it takes us. So, it’s a good week for us to start something special, defensively.
“We have to not give up big plays and give up any negative plays or mental errors out there for us to play as a team for once this year for 60 minutes. You’ve seen it where we’ve probably played 3 quarters, three and a half quarters, but we really haven’t played four quarters of good football. Hopefully, we can do it this week because, from here on out, I’m pretty sure every team we face is a good team, so it’d be good to start this week against these guys, a division rival. Definitely have to work and it starts in practice. We started yesterday and hopefully we can continue to put together some practices and feel good about coming in on Sunday.’
As for the fourth Pro Bowl selection of his career announced on Tuesday night, Wilfork said he appreciates the respect of the men he battles with in the trenches.
‘The guys that you bang heads with throughout the course of the year, for them to show the respect, it’s always like a good thing to see that,’ Wilfork said. ‘So, that’s an honor and to be amongst the elite when it comes down to playing football, very happy about it. But at the same time, I’m kinda not thinking about it now.’