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Vince Wilfork pays Eli Manning an ultimate compliment: ‘a guy not making bonehead mistakes’

01.26.12 at 10:07 pm ET

FOXBORO — No one says it like it is on the Patriots defense quite like Vince Wilfork.

Asked what he thought of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Wilfork said the Patriots will see a more mature quarterback than they saw in Super Bowl XLII and – for that matter – on Nov. 4 at Gillette Stadium.

“You’€™ve seen him grow,” Wilfork said. “You’€™ve seen a guy not making the bonehead mistakes. He’€™s protecting the football and that’€™s first and foremost. When you can protect the football offensively, you have a good shot. And I think with the guys surrounding him that can make plays ‘€“ that’€™s all they have to do is protect the ball and they’€™ll find themselves in pretty good shape. So it’€™s just a team that’€™s going to grind it out for 60 minutes. They going to play for 60 minutes and you know what, if we make a mistake or anyone that faced them made a mistake, it’€™s going to cost them so it’€™s going to be a tough, tough game for us but at the same time it’€™s going to be very, very exciting.”

Forget “elite,” Wilfork put Manning used the word “great” to describe his play leading the Giants to playoff road wins in Green Bay and San Francisco.

“He’€™s a great quarterback,” Wilfork said. “He’€™s been a first pick in the draft. I’€™ve always watched him. He does everything you’€™re looking for as a quarterback. I’€™ve seen it firsthand what he can do in the fourth quarter of these games. He’€™s done a great job bringing his team back. He’€™s a great leader. You always hear that coming out of New York, the guys really have a lot of respect for him and so do I.”

“It’€™s part of the position and you watch the San Francisco game and I watched that and he was getting drilled and just stood in there and kept making the throws, trusting his protection and came through when they needed him,” Brady said. “He’€™s certainly a great leader for that team and plays at an extremely high level. You don’€™t get to this game without playing at a high level. He seems to always do it down the stretch. I have a ton of respect for him. He’€™s a great competitor. He’€™s a great quarterback for that team.”

Manning is the biggest reason why Wilfork understands why some can’t buy the Giants as underdog. The Patriots are favored from anywhere between three and four points in Super Bowl XLVI.

“I would see why people would say they need to be favored ‘€“they’€™re a heck of a ball club,” Wilfork said. “It seems like the later in the season it gets, the better they get. They peak at the right time. I understand and trust me, I see the same thing that they see. I watch film a little bit more in depth than those guys and the Giants are a real good football team. They’€™re coached very well and they have playmakers everywhere.
What impresses Manning’s counterpart so much is his toughness. Tom Brady has watched Manning stand in the pocket and pay the price to get the ball where it needs to go.”

Read More: 2012 playoffs, New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl



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