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Vince Wilfork: Defense ‘understood we had to get after it nonstop’

10.22.12 at 12:24 am ET
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Vince Wilfork (75) had help from Rob Ninkovich (50) to make Sunday a nightmare for Mark Sanchez (6). (AP)

FOXBORO — After Rob Ninkovich forced and recovered the game-winning fumble in overtime against the Jets at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork laid down on the field, resting out his exhaustion from the physical battle with the divisional opponent.

The rest of that defensive unit celebrated on the field, and was quickly joined by the rest of the team, while Wilfork took his time standing back up.

Wilfork said in his post-game press conference that he was just tired – nothing injury related – but had to keep going on what proved to be the final play for the sake of the pass rush, which Bill Belichick emphasized to his defensive unit as the overtime period started.

Belichick’s words rang through the defensive front seven’s minds, and ended up being the deciding factor in tonight’s victory.

“Bill [Belichick] in overtime came to us and said ‘We’re going to need the rush. We’re going to need the rush.’ And I think everybody on that defensive line, or whoever was a part of our pass rushing unit, I think we all understood that we had to get after it nonstop,” Wilfork said. “I was doubled on that play, but I just tried to keep the wheels turning, just in the back of my mind knowing how important it was to get out and get off the field and try to win this ball game. Because our offense put us in a good spot, going down, kicking the field goal and putting us ahead. We knew if we got a stop, the game would be over. And I think the guys responded well.”

While the pass rush for New England was evident, at least for the most crucial point in the contest, the pass defense didn’t exactly shine.

The Patriots secondary gave up six plays to the Jets that went for 20 or more yards. Second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley accounted for three of them off passes from Mark Sanchez. It’s a glaring weakness on the stat sheet, but Wilfork remarked that at the end of the day, a win is a win.

“You know what? We really don’t pay any attention, to be honest with you,” Wilfork said. “For the most part, I think our guys came to work. They understood. We got a lot of holding penalties, but what that tells me is they were getting their hands on the receivers; they were trying to be physical with the receivers.

“You can always look at film and play better technique, but I was proud to actually see these guys get their hands on balls, get their hands on the receivers, make a few plays in a critical situations. It never was perfect; you never play a perfect football game, but at the end of the day, we made more plays to win the ball game and that’s the only thing that matters right now.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Vince Wilfork
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