Vince Wilfork on Patriots D: ‘We didn’t panic’
|09.30.12 at 7:54 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The imagery was powerful.
After one of the most physical games of his star-studded career, there was Vince Wilfork wearing a black t-shirt with two classic shots of Jimi Hendrix.
Just ask Donald Jones and he’ll tell you about the haze that Wilfork left him in after the Patriots defensive lineman crushed him in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 52-28 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The veteran defensive lineman tipped a passed that resulted in an interception, he recovered a fumble as the Bills were going in for a touchdown before the half before demolishing Jones with a crushing hit over the middle as the Patriots used big hits and big defensive plays to turn the tide in the second half. The hit was so violent – and clean – that it knocked Jones sideways.
The Patriots trailed 21-7 after Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Jones for a 67-yard TD over the middle early in the third quarter. Then the big plays and big hits began.
“Continue to execute,” Wilfork said. “We were giving up big plays and we were shooting ourselves in the foot, offensively. Just going out in the second half, we just wanted to play better football for 30 more minutes and we got it together. We just kept our poise, and I think we showed a heart of a champion today. Being down on the road, dropped two in a row, backs against the wall and everybody kept their composure. We were poised, we executed well in the critical situations, came up with some big stops, big plays and that’s what we’re going to need going forward because it doesn’t get any easier for us. So we’re going to need to put these things together now.”
Brandon Spikes forced two Bills fumbles that resulted in two of Buffalo’s six turnovers on the day. Wilfork said it was Spikes that led the way, setting the stage for Wilfork’s huge hit on Jones.
“Anytime after a big play, you feel good, especially after a big hit,” Wilfork said. “I felt good, our defense felt good, the crowd felt good, the Patriots fans we had [in attendance behind Patriots bench]. That was a momentum swing. Sometimes, it’s not all about scoring or turning the ball over and stuff like that. It can be a simple play and it was. And once we had that play, everything fell into place for us and that’s what we’re going to need and you don’t know what it’s going to be each week. But whatever it is, we need to figure it out because I like that feeling.”
And as Brandon Bolden pointed out on the offensive side of the ball, Wilfork felt the key was composure in the second half when things were seemingly disintegrating.
“We kept our poise,” Wilfork said. “We knew coming here was going to be a tough game against a division team, especially against the Buffalo Bills [who] always play us tough, especially the first game. So, we just kept our poise, stuck together. We didn’t panic and we just executed. We did, so leaving the game with six turnovers, defensively playing well and all three phases helping one another with the field position, offense putting some points on the board and us getting some big stops. We all came together as one. We just need more of these, more consistency and move on to next week.”