Ask any great football mind where the game is won, and they'll tell you: "At the line of scrimmage."
For New England's case this year, they've been winning the battle in the trenches, with nose guard Vince Wilfork causing havoc against opposing team's offensive lines.
Wilfork, the team's defensive captain and leader, recorded a career-high 57 tackles for the Patriots this year and led the year to a very success defensive squad.
When you look at this team's defense from a year ago, they are much more improved and a lot of the credit goes towards Wilfork.
Right before the 2009 season started, the team parted ways with a lot of "household" faces such as Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel; all three were defensive captains and leaders, which left a giant hole in the team's defense and locker room.
Vince Wilfork has filled that hole.
The 6'2", 325-pound beast out of Miami was given a mammoth contract in the offseason; some might say it wasn't the Patriot way.
However, Wilfork signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots on the first day of free agency during last offseason and expectations were high.
You figure, if the organization is going to pay him that much over five years, then he needs to become a franchise player and a leader.
Who is New England's most important defensive player?
And Wilfork has.
Wilfork might not be the vocal point on the defense, but he leads by example.
Not only do players feed off of his leadership, they feed off of his performance and simply his large presence on the line.
Linebacker Jerod Mayo has played incredible this year.
Mayo led the league in tackles with 175 and also had added two sacks.
Much of Mayo's production is from Wilfork clogging up holes on the line and causing a double-team on every play, clearing the way for Mayo to read the developing play.
Wilfork might not be the flashiest player out there, but he does the little things. He plays nearly every defensive snap, he rotates from nose guard to end and he takes up double teams just to name a few.
It's safe to say that Wilfork is the "juice" that pumps New England's defense.
NOTE: This article was first seen at PatriotsPlus.net
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