In big moments, Wilfork's the biggest

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In big moments, Wilfork's the biggest

FOXBORO -- The numbers were good, but they don't shoot out. Six tackles. One sack. One quarterback hit. It's what you'd expect from a defensive captain, and leader, of Vince Wilfork's caliber.
The numbers, however, don't come close to describing how dominant Wilfork was in Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. Driving the pocket, making stops in the backfield, taking over the line of scrimmage . . . he was a force Baltimore couldn't handle.
And he saved his best for (almost the) last: Back-to-back plays when Baltimore was driving with less than three minutes to go in the game. First he stuffed Ray Rice for a three-yard loss on third-and-3 from the Pats' 30, then he pressured Joe Flacco into a wild, incomplete throw on the next play, giving New England the ball with a chance to run out the clock.
Had Tom Brady and the offense not gone three-and-out, which allowed the Ravens one last (and nearly successful) drive, Wilfork would be remembered today as the game-clincher.
But Bill Belichick will remember.
"I thought Vince had a lot of big plays today," said the coach, and he wasn't surprised.
"Vince is obviously our most experienced player and he's been a great leader, great captain all year," he said. "His leadership has been tremendous."
And like a leader, Wilfork was willing -- nay, eager -- to share the credit.
"It was just a great defensive play from all eleven - not just myself," he said.
On the third-dpwn play, though, it was just himself.
"I think to be honest with you . . . the Ravens just cut me loose," Wilfork said. "I don't know. I'm always taught when someone doesn't block you, it's a set up and all. I don't know if they just missed a block or it was a setup block and I just beat it. I don't know. I'm going to have to watch the film and see it.
"Critical plays like that, you just have to take advantage. At that split second, the only thing I saw was: Did Rice have the ball? If it was a setup block, they . . . didn't get me."
In the end, the Ravens didn't get the Patriots. Wilfork wasn't surprised about that, either.
"There's no doubt in my mind, this team will finish ball games," he said of the Patriots. "They will fight, no matter what the outcome may be. This team is a bunch of warriors. They're a bunch of fighters, coaches and everybody, this whole organization is just a special group of guys and I love playing for guys like this."
Feeling's mutual, Vince.

Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

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Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

Alan Branch has been reinstated by the Patriots after the team suspended him prior to last week's preseason game with the Bears, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch's absence last week, he replied, "It's a club matter."

What got Branch suspended by the team is still unknown, but he is expected to be a contributing player on the interior of the Patriots defensive line in 2016. He started in 17 games last season, including both playoff games, often lining up alongside fellow defensive tackle Malcom Brown. 

Through training camp the Patriots have also used Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Anthony Johnson and Joe Vellano on the interior of their defensive front. Branch, however, has consistently been used with the team's first defensive grouping. It's unclear how a week away from the team might impact his spot on the depth chart. 

Field Yates of ESPN was the first to report the news that Branch had been reinstated.

Brady makes trip with Patriots to Carolina

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Brady makes trip with Patriots to Carolina

Tom Brady traveled with the Patriots to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, ahead of the third preseason game Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.

Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald was first to report the news. 

There’s no word on if Brady will play. He missed the opener against the Saints and, after cutting his thumb with scissors, missed the second exhibition game last Thursday against the Bears, both at Gillette Stadium.

Brady, of course, will miss the first four games of the regular season serving his NFL-imposed Deflategate suspension.

Gronkowski takes exception to Cowboys’ ‘Do Your Job’ sign

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Gronkowski takes exception to Cowboys’ ‘Do Your Job’ sign

The Dallas Cowboys have a “Do Your Job” sign posted in their locker room and “Gronk Nation” isn’t happy about it.

Here’s an excerpt from “Gronk Nation” - the website of Rob Gronkowski and his family - about “America’s Team” co-opting the slogan of the 2014 Patriots' Super Bowl run: 

While we all know that the Pats thrashed the Cowboys 30-6 last October and Dallas hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1995 season, so they need all the motivation they can get – but can’t America’s Team come up with their own slogan instead of stealing ours?