FOXBORO, Mass. — The rivalry between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens has cooled in recent years. But during Vince Wilfork’s playing days, it was one of the NFL’s fiercest.
The Pats and Ravens squared off 10 times during Wilfork’s 11 seasons in New England, including four times in the playoffs and twice in the AFC Championship Game. Six of those games were decided by four points or fewer, and both teams were loaded with elite talent.
Wilfork left the Patriots after the 2014 season, and the teams have met just three times since, most recently in 2020. But with the Ravens set to visit Gillette Stadium this Sunday — one day after Wilfork’s induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame — the former defensive tackle said he hopes to address the current New England team to share his insight and provide some extra motivation.
“Hopefully (Friday) I can have some time where I can go, because I would love to see the team,” Wilfork said after being fitted for his red Patriots Hall jacket. “I would love to go see Bill (Belichick) and the staff and everybody. Every time I’m in town, I want to. That’s what I want to do because I think it’s important not only for me, but for the players to understand. Even though I’ve been gone from the game for a while, sometimes it’s good to hear somebody else say something other than a coach always saying it. Anytime Bill can have somebody who played under him come back and kind of give some knowledge and speak some wisdom, I think players take it differently. So it might click on them like, ‘Dang, Bill just told me that last week, and here’s Vince telling me the same thing.’ It kind of puts you in a different mindset.
“So I’m hoping I can get over there (Friday). I don’t know yet, but that’s the goal, because I love being around. I love showing my face. Boston’s been great to me, the organization has been super wonderful, and Bill, he’s always, always been there for me. If I have a chance to get over there … it would make me happy, especially going against a team in the Ravens where we have a little rivalry there. I have a few things I would love to tell the team to get them ready for Sunday. So we’re going to see if we can make that happen.”
Wilfork said he doesn’t have one favorite memory from his Patriots tenure (“because I was so consistent”) but called New England’s win over Baltimore in the 2011 AFC Championship “one game I’ve always been proud of.” Wilfork dominated the Ravens’ offensive line in that game, tallying six tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss and five hurries while helping limit star rusher Ray Rice to 67 yards on 21 carries. New England won 23-20 after Billy Cundiff famously shanked a field goal as time expired.
The 2022 Patriots are looking to maintain the momentum from their Week 2 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers as they welcome Lamar Jackson and company to town for their home opener. Both teams sit at 1-1 on the season, with Baltimore coming off a wild 42-35 loss to the Miami Dolphins.