Nose tackle Vince Wilfork had a monster game for the Patriots with six tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit in Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Ravens. He anchored a defense that held NFL total yardage leader Ray Rice to 78 yards.
Wilfork's biggest play came with 2:46 left and Ravens on a fourth-and-6 from the New England 33. Wilfork bulled his way to the backfield and got a hand on Flacco, forcing a rushed pass that fell harmlessly incomplete.
The Ravens got the ball back and had a chance to tie the game, but Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal. Asked if he was surpried by the miss, Wilfork said: "Yeah. That's a lot of pressure. A lot of pressure. Fifteen seconds left to go in the game and you've got a chance to tie the ball game. That's a tough kick.
"One thing we always preach is we always want to do the right thing," Wilfork added. "And practice is everything for us. And preparation. We always go through certain situations, certain times and timeouts. You just don't know when you're going to get those situation. And tonight everybody had to be on their 'P's and 'Q's, especially with that last kick. And I think it was a hell of an effort from our guys, just executing the way we wanted to rush and set up the block everything."
Wilfork said he isn't ready to focus on the Super Bowl yet, not until he has a chance to soak up this victory.
"It was just a good football game," he said. "You saw a great football game tonight. You saw a classic. Two football teams didn't want to budge. A physical football team. Plays being made -- but not many. Every yard was tough. That's what you saw tonight. You saw just a great, great effort. And it came down to the last couple of seconds. Too bad someone had to lose. But I'm happy to be on the winning side."
Added Wilfork: "I don't think it's really set in. But just to see the excitement from all the guys, the fans and the players to the coaches, first-year guys, second-year guys, guys that have never been in this situation. Just to see those guys excited is just bringing back memories. You're going to the Super Bowl. Everybody plays this game for this moment. This is what we play for. At the beginning of the year, you have 32 teams at the bottom and everybody's just climbing the ladder to get to this moment here. Luckily, we got to this moment.
"It's been tough. Nothing's been easy. We had to deal with certain things, certain situations. But this team handled them pretty well. They never give up. They're very, very passionate about what they do. They love this game. And I could take the field with anybody like that."
For more coverage of the Patriots' victory in the AFC championship game, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
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