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Vince Wilfork: ‘We’re going to have to play an ‘A-plus’ game’ to win

09.26.13 at 4:06 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork reflects on a question. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Vince Wilfork reflects on a question. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork doesn’t need to be reminded of the challenge that lies ahead for him and the Patriots defense this Sunday night in Atlanta.

Wilfork is always respectful when mentioning the opponent but on Thursday he sounded like the president of the booster club for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons.

“Right now, it’s a challenge for us. We’re going to have to defend everything,” Wilfork said. “It’s like four or five or six of them. It’s going to be a battle, definitely going to be a battle. We’re up for the challenge. It’s going to be tough to pull out a ‘W’ but it’s been done before but we’re going to have to play an ‘A-plus’ game for it to happen.”

Does Wilfork consider Ryan among the “elite” quarterbacks in the NFL?

“Absolutely, 100 percent yes,” Wilfork said. “He’s smart. He runs that offense to a ‘T’ and any situation you put him in, he can put the team in the right situation so hands down, he’s one of the best.”

Wilfork continued:

“They are one of the best team when it comes to everything they do,” Wilfork said. “There’s a reason these guys win a lot of ball games. They have a quarterback that leading them that’s one of the best. He’s young but he’s one of the best. You can put him up there with the best quarterbacks in the game, just the way he operates that team. We know this is going to be a challenge, Sunday night going down there at their stadium. It’s going to be rocking.

“Receivers, tight ends, running back, offensive line, I mean everywhere you look they have weapons. We know how important it is for us to practice well and prepare and hopefully, we can get it done on Sunday but it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Wilfork was reminded that the Falcons are 1-2 while the Patriots are 3-0.

“Trust me, they won’t [play like] 1-2,” he said. “This team is an elite team, that’s their problem but we’re not even looking at the records. We’re looking at what’s on film. They’ve been in some close games and sometimes football comes down to playing 59 minutes of good football and one minute can make a difference in a ball game.”

The Falcons have lost to the Saints and Dolphins by surrendering fourth quarter leads while beating the Rams at home.

“They’ve been taking games down to the wire,” Wilfork said. “Sometimes, they’ve been on the wrong end of the stick and they’ve pulled it out once. History shows with this team that they’re going to be ready, they’re going to be jacked up, Sunday night at home, playing against the Patriots. It won’t take much to get those guys going.

“I don’t care who they put back there. When I think about Atlanta, I always think about the running game, how they mix it in with the flashes and the pass and now with Julio and Roddy White and Tony, weapons everywhere. So, when you’re able to go into a game and run the ball, play-action pass, screen, get down the field with a tight end that can catch the ball in the end zone. When you have to defend that, it’s very tough for a defense.”

The challenge will be immense, according to Wilfork.

“It’s everything you can imagine. We’re going to get challenged,” he said. “Defensively, offensively, special teams, crowd noise, adjustments. Our goal is to minimize that by preparing and expecting to get different looks, different plays.

“There might be some things where we might need to come to sideline. We’re going to have to be focused. We’re going to have to be profession and make those adjustments on the sidelines. It’s going to be tough, trust me. We understand the type of game we have to play. We know how tough it’s going to be for us but at the same time, it’s the National Football League, it’s a road game. Hopefully, we can walk away with the ‘W.’ That would be something to be proud of.”

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan, New England Patriots, nfl
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