<
>

Wilfork: 'We all take part of the criticism'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is the latest to come out in support of the team's defensive backs, noting Thursday that the defense is a complementary unit and suggesting that each position group bears responsibility for the team's struggles in pass defense.

"We all take part of [the criticism]," said Wilfork. "You’re not going to sit back and say, 'They catch the ball because they're not covered.' That’s part on us up front, too, not being able to get to the quarterback quick enough. It works hand in hand. It’s not track [and field], where you can go out and throw a shot put, or run the 100-yard dash and win a medal by yourself. You win together. And the quicker we understand that, the better we’ll be. I think we understand that.

AP Photo/Don Wright

The Patriots defense remains a work in progress, and there's plenty of blame to go around."Trust me, I don’t want any of our defensive backs to think it’s their fault we’re not getting off the field on third down. Or they catch an in-cut 20 yards down the field -- 20 yards down the field, that gives us up front a lot of time to work, and get to the quarterback. We have to take some of the blame, and we are."

With his defensive backs under fire after the Steelers passed all over the Patriots Sunday in Pittsburgh, Belichick made it a point Wednesday to stress that corners were not at the top of the problem list. Belichick pointed to the fact that many of Pittsburgh's big plays came between the numbers, rather than on the perimeter of the field.

In a way, that's condemning of the safeties and linebackers. But Wilfork, a defensive captain, made sure to stress it's a unit-wide problem. And one he says the team is working to fix.

"One thing we’ve been doing, we just keep working," said Wilfork. "There are challenges each week and we keep working. We have to work harder, so that’s what we’ll do."