Not surprisingly considering how rarely we see a 325-pound-plus nose
tackle record an interception, Vince Wilfork's first career pick was
still being talked about long after New England's big 35-21 win Sunday
afternoon over the Chargers.
Immediately after the game, the Pro Bowl nose
tackle used his postgame press conference to joke that he's more of a
Cover 2 pass defender as he likes to get his hands on opposing
"It's funny, because we have certain drills that
we do on defense," Wilfork said of preparing for his big play. "There's
(drills for) interceptions, turnovers, fumble recoveries, and we
haven't done it this year, but any chance we get as a defensive line to
do our drills, we line up something called 'Deion.' We have a receiver
play DB, you run a route and you cover. That's one of the things we do
just to have fun. Everyone thinks they are Deion or Jerry Rice. You
have 300-plus guys running routes, some look terrible, some look pretty
decent, stuff like that. We actually do it, more joking. But at the
same time we are very competitive, so we get something out of it and it
showed up today."
Not only did Wilfork record his first NFL
interception, his first since high school in fact, he returned the ball
28 yards down the sideline to help set up a field goal just before
halftime. He used his instincts to snuff out Philip Rivers' short toss
toward running back Mike Tolbert, and his surprising athleticism for a
man his size to tip the ball to himself before hauling it in and
rumbling down the field.
No matter how you look at it, it was an impressive
play. After breaking down the film of the win, Bill Belichick broke
down Wilfork's play for the media.
"I think what Vince saw was the back releasing
pretty quickly into the flat and he came off and I talked to
him about the play, I'm not sure whether he thought it was a screen or
whether he just saw the quarterback looking at the back who released
kind of right in front of him. But he kind of pulled off on it and was
able to get in the throwing lane," Belichick said. "Look, the defensive
linemen are trying to rush the passer, that's what they're in there
for. But good defensive linemen will have an awareness of the backs --
backs run screens, backs run in wide flare patterns, sometimes backs
are checking through the middle - that indicates a potential passing
lane to that guy.
"Instinctively, if they can get into that passing
lane, which is pretty much what Vince did on that play -- he kind of
dropped off and got into the lane between Rivers and the back and made
a great play on the ball. It was a really instinctive play on his part.
That wasn't really something that we had designed or he was
specifically coached to do. I think he just saw it and reacted like a
football player and did what he thought was right and it was definitely
the right thing on that play."
Not surprisingly, Wilfork's teammates weren't
taking quiet as analytical approach to their big man's big play.
"That was legit," tight end Rob Gronkowski said of
Wilfork's play with a laugh. "He had great ball security, too, which is
a big crucial point when carrying the ball. It was awesome."
"The run was ugly, the pick great," defensive end
Andre Carter added. "The pick was fantastic. I know he was trying to
high-step but I think those hips were a little tight."
"It was a magnificent feat of athleticism," tackle
Matt Light said simply. "You saw Vince's speed. He is a real threat out
However you want to describe it, Wilfork's
interception was one of a number of key defensive plays made by the New
England defense in the big Week 2 win. One that left the defensive
captain with some bragging rights in the Patriots locker room.
"I actually tipped it to myself and caught it,"
Wilfork gloated. "I am just happy I caught it, because if I didn't
catch it I am pretty sure my teammates would have let me have it. We
talk a lot around here about who is better, defensive or offense, who
can play what position, I'm pretty sure they would have let me have it
if I were to have dropped that ball. Now I can talk smack to them."
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