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Vince Wilfork on Pats D in opener: ‘I think we’ll do some special things’

09.09.12 at 5:40 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork led a defense that bottled up Chris Johnson (28) to a career-low four yards. (AP)

To Vince Wilfork, Sunday’s dominating defensive effort against one of the best running backs in the NFL is an example of the great potential of this Patriots defense.

Chris Johnson was held to a career-low four yards on 11 carries as the Patriots defense completely shut down the Titans, 34-13, at LP Field in a season-opening win.

“I think it’s a mix of everything,” Wilfork said afterward. “When you put 11 guys together and you have goals, you don’t want to let the guy beside you down. Our goals every year is being able to stop the run, good third down and red area defense. So, today we responded well against the run. I think throughout the preseason, we showed improvement each week. This is something I think that can be a backbone for us, going into each game giving teams just one dimension. That will help us tremendously. That’s what we’re looking forward to.

“Very excited about these guys, very, very happy with the performance these guys came out with as a team and as a unit, especially as a defensive lineman coming out and holding a great back to only four yards. That was good team defense. And it’s just not the guys up front, it’s the backers, secondary at times. As long as we continue to play better and get better as a team, I think we’ll do some special things.”

Even Tom Brady was impressed from the sidelines.

“I tell you, they’ve been playing like that all preseason on defense,” Brady said. “We see them in practice every day. They’re very competitive, they’re competitive on the outside, rush the quarterback, get turnovers, do a good job of covering the backs out of the backfield. There was a lot of team defense out there.”

Wilfork said he could sense something special was brewing this week in practice.

“We came in feeling good, happy with the way we practiced, way we prepared,” Wilfork said. “I think everybody was confident and it showed today. This is a good team win. You’re talking three phases of your team, special teams, offense and defense coming together and getting the team victory. It’s great to have that, especially in your first game, on the road in a tough environment. I think we responded very, very well. Definitely something to build on.

“It wasn’t perfect. It’s the start of the season so there are some things that we still need to work on and get better. The key for us now is to go back, watch film, make corrections, move forward and get better as a team. I think everybody’s mind-frame, that’s where we’re at right now.”

Never was the defensive preparation on display more than when the Titans were threatening on first and goal at the Patriots 1 early in the fourth quarter. The Titans were trailing 28-10 and the obvious call was to hand off to Johnson. They did and the Patriots read it to perfection, overloading with pursuit to the strong side, Wilfork (shown in above photo) broke through and drilled Johnson for a five-yard loss and suddenly, it was 2nd and goal from the 6. The Titans were forced to settle for a field goal.

“Just preparation,” Wilfork said. “That’s one thing we went through this week, knowing tendencies down there. That was all play-calling. I can’t really take credit for that. That was play-calling, perfect play-calling on defense putting me in that position to make that play. If that other 10 guys didn’t do their job, it probably would’ve created a problem also. I know I made the tackle but trust me, it’s my teammates and coaches that put me in that position to make that play.”

Read More: Chris Johnson, CJ2K, New England Patriots, nfl
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