Vince Wilfork made his weekly appearance on The Big Show on Tuesday and said New England's defense has to find a way to get in the flow of the game earlier. The past two games New England has fallen behind by large deficits against division foes Miami and Buffalo before storming back for victories in the second half. The Patriots finished the regular season atop the AFC, thus earning a bye week. New England is scheduled to play their first playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 14, in the divisional round.
“We have to do a better job of making plays early,” Wilfork said. “We have to keep preaching it. Sooner or later, we have to start figuring it out and having it click early on. We can't wait until the second quarter or third or fourth series. We have to keep practicing, and hopefully we can get it.”
New England was the top seed in last year's postseason but lost at home to the Jets. The Patriots have failed to win a playoff game since the 2007-08 season, when they beat San Diego in the AFC championship game, 21-12. Wilfork said the team does not reflect on past postseason shortcomings or triumphs.
“We don't compare [this year's team] to last year, or the last two or three years,” he said. “Each year is different. You never see us walking around talking about '04 when we won it all. Last year is last year. We're not going to look back to last year, and try to figure out what happened. It's not worth it. Our goal is how to prepare to play good football Saturday. That's the only thing we have in mind. We always try to keep the past with the past, and deal with the present. Right now the present is the 2011-12 Patriots.”
Wilfork said New England has put itself in prime position and needs to capitalize with a strong week of preparation as well as maintaining health.
“It starts with a great week of practice," Wilfork said. "We need everyone as close to healthy as you can get. It's been a tough long season so far, we have to take advantage [of the bye week]. It is so easy to party and go out to have trouble find you. You have to be smart and ready to work, but you also need to use this time get your body the rest it needs to play. With this group of guys I don't think we'll have any problems of guys going out, doing any bonehead stuff. This is a special group of guys, we fight for one goal."
The maligned Patriots defense, anchored by Wilfork, is something the four-time Pro-Bowler knows can improve. “We haven't looked pretty,” Wilfork said. “It hasn't happened like what we wrote down in the book or like guys expected. We haven’t played 60 minutes of good football yet. But what we have done is been able to win, and that's what good football teams are able to do. Sometimes we don't get credit because of the statistics we've given up.”
In last year's playoff game, momentum shifted gears when Tom Brady was intercepted by David Harris of the Jets in the first quarter. Wilfork said his defense can similar provide game-changing turnovers for New England, despite its disappointing regular season.
“This game is decided on scoring points and being able to take the ball away,” Wilfork said. “Can we get better? Absolutely. Can we knock down yardage [given up]? Absolutely. It is what it is, but we have to do a better job.”
Ryan Hadfield contributed to this report.
Greg and Chris talk with Mike Reiss from ESPN Boston in hour 2 of NFL Sunday to discuss a variety of offseason happenings with the Pats and throughout the league. Greg and Chris also get into the NFL Draft and where Mariota and Winston will go.
Mike Reiss calls the guys to talk about the offseason news for the Pats. He talks about the Pats/Jets tampoering fiasco, free agency, where he sees Ridley and Connolly ending up, if the Patriots would be interested in Reggie Wayne and more.
In the first hour of the show, Greg and Chris discuss the news coming out of the owners' meetings this week and rule changes. Belichick's blow-up over the league not wanting to spend on endzone cameras was well documented and the guys react. They also talk about the Jets ridiculous tampering charges, free agents still lingering out there, where Stevan Ridley will land and the RB position in New England. Dickerson and Price briefly discuss the adventures of Tom Brady before being joined by WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia to talk all things Pats in the offseason.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
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Mut, Tomase, and Bradford kick things off talking about Shane Victorino taking offense to people reading into some comments he made about trading for Cole Hamels. They also discuss Blake Swihart and how soon he could be up if Christian Vazquez starts the season on the DL.
Joe Kelly joined the Hot Stove show where he talked about being ready for his next spring training start after a biceps ailment forced him out of his last outing, he talks about his NCAA brackets and how teammate Wade Miley has a perfect bracket still.
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It's a big hour #2 for the Sunday Skate dudes - they talk about the B's defenseman and what the future looks like at that position, with both moves the team can make and younger guys in the AHL. They also get into the Bruins philosophy on bringing guys up and sending them back down and how players deal with that. Finally, the boys are joined by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to discuss EVERYTHING.
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Ben and Adam finish the odyssey that is the history of Wrestlemania. Wrestlemanias 21-30 are discussed and analyzed.
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