Vince Wilfork following Achilles injury: ‘I worked my tail off just to get back and play football like I normally play’

By Ryan Hannable on December 25, 2014 at 8:00 am ET
Vince Wilfork has made a few big plays this season, including an interception against Oakland and a blocked field goal against the Jets. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Vince Wilfork has made a few big plays this season, including an interception against Oakland and a blocked field goal against the Jets. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It’s been a special season for Vince Wilfork.

Wilfork has been dominant on the field, as the nose tackle has 46 tackles and has been incredibly durable. The 33-year-old in his 11th season in the league has played 780 of a possible 1,051 snaps (74 percent), per Pro Football Focus.

The 74 percent is important as he will make a $1.25 million bonus for playing in 70 percent of the team’€™s defensive snaps, and another $500,000 if he plays 70 percent of the snaps and the Patriots finish in the top 10 in points allowed.

The Patriots are currently eighth in the NFL in points allowed per game at 19.7. The Bengals and Browns are tied for ninth at 21.1.

“Every season means a lot to me,” Wilfork said. “Just another, playing sports in general, playing football in general, the passion I have for the game it means a lot. Being where I came from, especially last year, just to be back out there with the guys and my teammates, to play and win ballgames. I think that is the key. The key is winning and winning makes a lot of things easier.”

This season has even more meaning to Wilfork as he missed most of last season with an Achilles injury suffered in Week 4 and had to work extremely hard in the offseason to get ready to return for this year.

“I worked my tail off just to get back and play football like I normally play,” Wilfork said. “I never take nothing for granted. I’ll tell you that. It’s fun to come and work with the guys I have in this locker room. Devin [McCourty] has been with me sometimes in the offseason so he’s seen some of the things I did and how important it was to me to get back and play with these guys, especially the level we’ve been playing at. I’m very thankful.”

Wilfork’s play after his recovery process has drawn the attention of his teammates, including Darrelle Revis.

“There is a lot of appreciation for him to individually to get back to playing at a high level because especially him being an elite player that he’s been,” said Revis “He’s been one of the top players in the league. He has never probably been hurt or injured or had a surgical injury, so it just shows you tough he is and how hard he works.”

The University of Miami product also has a blocked field goal and an interception this season. The blocked field goal came in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 17-16 win over the Jets. If Nick Folk’s kick was good, it would have given the Jets the lead. Wilfork says making a few game-changing plays a year is very important to him.

“I just look at as capitalizing on opportunities,” Wilfork said. “Throughout the course of the season you want to have a couple of opportunities where you make a game-changing play and I have been lucky to make a couple of them in my career. Last week was just another one that I made, but with the guys beside me that wouldn’t have been possible. With the guys from the outside all the way in, on that field goal block if they didn’t do their job I wouldn’t have had the opportunity. I understand that and I give more credit to those guys than me. I was the one just to tip it.

“The pressure we’ve been putting on people, especially in the kicking game this year has been very, very exciting. Every time they line up to kick field goals I feel we have a shot at blocking it. It’s a good feeling to have.”