Thursday's 27-0 drubbing of the Houston Texans wasn't just another night for the Patriots to dominate the Texans, it marked the homecoming for one of the most beloved Patriots of all time.
Returning to Gillette Stadium for the first time since the 2014 AFC Championship Game, Vince Wilfork recorded seven tackles -- tied with Kareem Jackson for second-most on the Texans' moribund defense. In the first quarter, the Pats paid tribute to the man who donned their uniform for 11 seasons with a montage of his career highlights.
Wilfork was touched by the video, and had nothing but appreciation for it. Via WEEI's Ryan Hannable:
“I had 11 great years here,” Wilfork said. “The fans, my teammates, the coaches, it was awesome and I love my memories here. It just goes to show the mutual respect they have for me. I feel the same way towards them. I love them. This was home. For 11 years it was home. They drafted me. And for me to come back and show the respect they did it shows what kind of organization they are.”
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft also expressed admiration for Wilfork, and hinted at his eventual (well-deserved) induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame (courtesy of WEEI's Mike Petraglia).
“I love the guy. To me, he’ll always be a Patriot. I can’t wait till we induct him into the [Patriots] Hall because I think that’s probably a foregone conclusion. He was the heart and soul of not just the defense but that locker room for a number of years. He and Bianca were both [great]. They were everything you could want in a football player and his family, on and off the field. It’s amazing to watch what he does at his age. He’s still playing really good football.”
Vince Wilfork is a Patriots icon, and while the end result wasn't exactly what he was hoping for, he still received a big-time hero's welcome. Not sure if there was any turkey involved, but there should have been.