Sunday, October 2, 2011
Wilfork's 'vacuum cleaner' hands
By Chris Forsberg
OAKLAND -- The Patriots' defense gave up another 300-yard passing game Sunday against the Raiders, but here's a far more sobering statistic for the New England secondary: Through four games, the team leader in interception return yards is 325-pound defensive lineman Vince Wilfork ... and it's not even close.
For only the second time in his eight-year career -- but the second time in three weeks -- Wilfork produced another highlight-reel interception, snaring a Jason Campbell offering in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-19 triumph at O.co Coliseum.
All 325 pounds of Vince Wilfork is on the run again, returning his second interception of the season 19 yards.
After rumbling 19 yards with the interception, Wilfork now boasts 47 return yards on his two picks. That's essentially double the yardage produced in the team's five other interceptions by Kyle Arrington (3 INT, 27 yards), Sergio Brown (1 INT, 2 yards) and Patrick Chung (1 INT, 0 yards).
After suggesting that his interception against San Diego in Week 2 might have been a once-in-a-career moment, was Wilfork baiting Campbell this time around?
"No, to be honest with you, I don’t know what I did," he said. "I have to go back and watch the play. One thing with a lot of quarterbacks is, when it comes to passing it, they want to go deep then come back to their security, that’s their checkdowns or cross or whatever it may be. I was just happy to be in the right place at the right time."
Even still, Wilfork showed his athleticism by stepping in front of an offering for Darren McFadden on a crossing route. Wilfork then stiff-armed an offensive lineman to get in the open, before dragging a few more bodies on the return.
"Vince has got great hands," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "People don't realize that because he's not a skill player, but he can catch the ball, catch punts and everything else. When he gets his hands on it, he's like a vacuum cleaner. He sucks it right in there. It was a big play for us and great awareness on Vince's part. He's a hard guy to bring down. You have to gang-tackle him."
Funny, that was the scouting report on McFadden all week. But there was Wilfork thwarting the league's top running back.
"The most important thing, we got the W," Wilfork said. "It wouldn’t have meant anything if we wouldn’t have got the W. I think it was a good team win. I think this whole week we challenged each other. Bill challenged us, we challenged each other. We were very competitive in practice. This was like one of the best weeks of practice we had, ot a lot of mental errors in practice. We had a good week of preparation and it showed. We went out and played ball."