- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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Wilfork was critical in clogging up the middle of the Patriots' defense, while also taking on numerous double teams that freed up space for his linebackers to run and hit opposing backs. He does it weekly, and it's a part of Wilfork's role that transcends statistics and box scores.
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia lauded Wilfork's play on Friday, describing how much of what he does isn't purely about numbers.
"Obviously he's a staple of our defense," he said of Wilfork. "[An] extremely impact player for us where statistically things might not show up or might not be apparent to just the average play, but there's a whole lot of other things that are going on behind the scenes that either free up another player or allow a player to play off of him, or he's just so disruptive in general, it really allows the other guys to play aggressive off of him, which is obviously beneficial to us."
Patricia pointed to the play from Thursday night in which Wilfork drove Jets guard Brandon Moore back into a scrambling Mark Sanchez, which caught the quarterback off guard and forced a fumble that was eventually scooped up by safety Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown.
"You take the play from last night where Sanchez ran the ball and ran into the guard," Patricia continued. "Obviously Vince is doing a great job of forcing the guard back, [he] kind of just I think actually surprised Sanchez by how quickly he got popped back. Just little things like that that may not show up on the stats that are critically important to our defense."
After the win on Thursday, head coach Bill Belichick not only shared praise for Wilfork's play on the field, but also his leadership, highlighting he, linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive back Devin McCourty as top leaders on the defense.
The stats didn't suggest dominance -- just three tackles -- but Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork was precisely that in the team's 49-19 rout of the New York Jets on Thursday night.