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Vince Wilfork Press Conference Transcript

New England Patriots NT Vince Wilfork addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, January 18, 2012.

Q: What is your response to Bill Belichick calling your interceptions and runbacks 'legendary'?  

VW: A lineman's dream. I think having the ball in your hands is a dream come true as a lineman. Too bad it wasn't a touchdown, but I ended up falling on one in Washington. It's been a fun year. It's been a real fun year, it's been exciting just to come to work and have fun and just watch this team grow. It's been a blessing and we're going to continue to grow. This team is a special team, it's a special group. I think it's easy when you get to come to work and have fun and just see guys work hard each day. It's a blessing. We have to keep it up, though.  

Q: It seems that everything came together against the Broncos, you were able to play 60 minutes. What is it going to take against the Ravens?  

VW: We have to play better. We definitely have to play better. Each game gets tougher. This is probably one of the best teams out there in the NFL in the Ravens. It's going to be a tough, tough football game. The Ravens are a tough football team. All three phases they do well. They don't give you too many explosive plays, but they have guys everywhere that can score. So it's going to be a challenge for us as a defense to go out and try to slow these guys down. You can look throughout the course of the year and the games we played - they had big plays. Guys step up at crucial times and I think they believe. We are going to have to do a better job and I think we're going to have to top that performance we had last week and make more plays. I think that the team that prepares well and prepares better will probably have the edge this Sunday.  It starts with practice and film room and stuff like that, so we'll have to get a jump on it. I'm pretty sure they are over there and knowing those guys, some of them, they've already been studying. So it's going to be hard to try to outwork these guys, but you know what? This is what it's all about. You have to come to work, you have to be ready to work and we are, we are. But at the same time, we know it won't be an easy match for us, so it's going to be a real good football game Sunday.  

Q: You played with Ravens safety Ed Reed at Miami. What type of player is he and what does he bring from back then to right now?  

VW: Playmaking. I mean he's always been that way, even at the University of Miami. I was young but I didn't really understand how great he was. I knew he was good, but I didn't see it until I got to the NFL and seeing him making the same exact plays and hear people talking about him. The guy is just one hell of a player, on and off the field. He knows how to go into a film room and break down film probably as well as a coach and then put it on the field. That's the thing that he can do. He can put it on the field. I had a chance to witness it first hand and one of the plays that always sticks out in my mind is when we came up here to play BC [Boston College]. BC was leading actually and Matt Walters intercepted the ball and Reed just took it from him. He claimed that the guy gave it to him, but he took it from him and ran it back. And earlier that year, I think against Florida State - blocked punt with a separated shoulder. He's going to give it his all. He's just a smart, tough football player physically and mentally. He knows the game. He has a nose for the ball so I'm glad he's not an offensive player. I'm pretty sure he can be on that side also because his ball skills are amazing.  

Q: Is the performance put on by the defense last week the culmination of the growth and hard work of the defense to peak at this time?  

VW: I think last week won't have anything to do with this week to be honest with you. Our goal is to get better. We have to play better. We have to make more plays because each game you play it gets tougher and tougher especially when you're dealing with a ball club we're going to face in the Ravens. They're a stingy team. Defensively they're probably one of the best teams, defensively. Offensively, they have probably one of the best running backs in the game. Wide receivers, [Anquan] Boldin and everyone. The offensive line is big and physical, everybody. Not to mention Ricky [Williams] and with a great fullback. They have All-Pros over there. It won't get any easier for us, but it's a challenge for us, it's definitely a challenge for us. We know we have to slow them down. But I think this defense is capable but it's what we make it. It's how well we can prepare now and hopefully be comfortable Sunday when it comes down to making plays. If we can't do that, we'll have a long day. I have faith that we're going to get to work and we're going to put everything we have in it. Right now, it's a one game season. The only thing we're focused on is the AFC Championship, this game against the Ravens. Everything after that happen buts this is a big game for us. I'm pretty sure this is a big game for them. The team that prepares well, that's the team that is going to win this ballgame.  

Q: What makes Ray Rice so special and so tough to defend against?  

VW: He's tough to bring down. I mean, his lower body is probably like my lower body, with big thighs and he's very strong. Hard runner, low center of gravity, can catch well and can block. When you can put those three things in a running back, you've got a complete running back and he's been doing it ever since he's been in the league. Tough, tough guy to bring down. Very, very physical runner. To be that small, you wouldn't expect him to be that tough of a runner. I'll tell you what, he's probably one of the toughest guys to bring down in this league because he always keeps those wheels spinning. He always comes up with big plays for his team, if it's in the pass game or the running game. When you have a running back like that, you can do anything with him. I think the Ravens do a good job of using him. That's first on our list, we have to slow him down if we want to be successful as a defense.  

Q: What do you see from the tape on Joe Flacco? When is he at his best?  

VW: When he can throw the ball with a clean pocket. He has great poise in the pocket. He will stand in there and deliver a good football if he has the time. At times you see that and at times you don't see that. He's a tough quarterback, just looking at some of the hits he's taken. He bounces right up, you have to tip your hat to him. He's at his best when he can get everybody involved in the game, have a clear lane to throw down. Even without a good lane, he's just one of those quarterbacks where he's going to take his time and he's going to be very poised. He's going to stand in that pocket and deliver a good football even if he's getting hit. Once again, you can't ask for anything better. A quarterback that can take a beating and licks and still deliver the ball downfield, that's pretty good. We have our hands full there also. There are a lot of things that we have to do very well to be successful. It's not just slowing down their running attack, it's a bunch of things we have to do.  

Q: How much of the success of the defense has to do with confidence and where is your confidence right now?  

VW: I think confidence is everything. I think the more confidence you can play with, the better the outcome will be. We get in trouble when we think too much. In this defense, we always have moving parts. It's a tough defense at times but that's how Bill [Belichick] runs his ship. I think the guys have done a great job all year of getting those things down and problems we had, we tried to correct them and for the most part we did. Confidence, we start early with confidence we'll be okay. The problems we had have probably been not starting off early enough with the confidence. As the game starts getting moving I think you start seeing guys make more plays just because of the confidence level, believing what they see, just believing what they've seen on film, just trusting their technique. The more we can play with confidence, the better we'll be. I think last week we started off good but like I said we have to be better this week, definitely have to be better with this ballclub.      

Q: How has Jerod Mayo emerged as a leader?  

VW: Jerod is a special player. As a rookie he came in and started for us, played for us and played well. Right then and there, I just saw the leadership. He wasn't your typical rookie that was going to take a couple years to actually get a chance to play. When we drafted him, we had every intention on him playing and he did. He's just a great guy. He works hard, home and here - with his family, his kids and especially his teammates. He's a coach on the field. I have no problem taking a backseat to my middle linebacker. I was always taught that the middle linebacker, he runs the ship. I don't care if we agree or we don't agree. What he calls, that's what we roll with. I tried to tell him as a rookie, 'Hey, it's your defense.' I think at first he kind of looked at it as he was a young guy. But as time went on, he started to understand this is his ship. I think a lot of guys respect him, that's why he's a captain, that's why he's who he is. He might not make the interceptions or the big plays like everyone is used to seeing at middle linebacker but trust me, this guy makes sure everybody on that field is lined up correctly, has the call. Even when we don't get the call and he gives it and we have a breakdown he goes to the sideline and says, 'Hey, I have to do a better job.' Even if we did get it but we just didn't get it. He always comes to the sideline and says, 'I'll make sure I give it to you.' He's by far one of the best leaders that we have on this team.   

Q: You're also a father. How do you balance work and home during the playoffs?  

VW: When I'm here, I'm at work. When I'm at work, I'm at work. When I'm at home, I'm a father, I'm a husband. My wife knows, my kids know, my 14-year-old son, he knows. My eight-year-old daughter, I see her walking when I'm leaving home, she's asking me what time I'm coming home and do I have to work so at a degree she knows. For the most part they know when daddy is home, I'm home. Even this time, I have to watch film or do something at home, I just let them know, 'Hey, I have to take care of work.' They understand that. It's not hard, it's not hard especially when I leave that house for work, everything from that house to here is all about work, it's all about work. But when I'm at home I'm a father and I'm a husband. I make sure that I don't bring this home but sometimes I have to because of certain situations. I do watch film at home, I do watch film with my wife; sometimes I watch it with my 14-year-old son. They're all part of this also with me.  

Q: Do they have any tips?  

VW: Yeah. My wife tells me why I don't make more tackles than I do. It's funny because my son earlier this year, this was before I fell on the fumble in Washington, he told me, he had a 60-yard run for a touchdown on the last play of the game. He came home and he was like, 'Well, I've got something you don't have.' I said, 'What?' He said, well I scored a 60-yard touchdown. Here I am, thinking he's lying but I clicked on the film and he sure did so he had bragging rights. When I got my touchdown, I said I have something you don't have - I have two interceptions and a touchdown, how about that one? But it's always fun. My family is a blessing to me. They keep me going, even when I'm down and out, they keep me going. It's either my family there or my family here. One or the other, I'm always going to be happy.

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