FOXBORO - Vince Wilfork's statistics may not reflect it, but the Patriots' big defensive tackle is having a season befitting his prodigious size.
The ledger isn't knock-your-socks-off stuff - 39 tackles (26 solo), one sack, two quarterback hits, five pass defenses, one forced fumble and three recoveries.
He didn't even get credit on Thanksgiving for one of the best plays of the year, when he literally threw offensive lineman Brandon Moore at Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez and forced a memorable fumble. And that's basically what Wilfork is - a presence teams try to avoid, not challenge.
"Winning is everything to me," Wilfork said Thursday at Gillette Stadium. "I couldn't care less about individual stats, and I don't care about the accolades. My main goal is to win. If we win and I'm playing well with zeros stats, I'm fine with that."
The Patriots are in the latter stages of preparation for Sunday's game at Miami (1 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12), and Wilfork will, as always, be front-and-center in the effort to plug up the opposition's offensive attack.
"You can't look at their record," he said. "They're 5-6, but there's no way in the world they should be 5-6. They lost some tough, tough football games and the team is playing very well. It's a young football team that's playing very well."
Wilfork will be looking to put the clamps on Reggie Bush, the multi-talented lead back of the Dolphins, who has 662 yards on the ground and another 189 through receptions.
"This guy, he can hit you from anywhere on the field, in the passing game and the running game," Wilfork said. "He's able to reverse field, we've all seen him on special teams in the kick return game, doing anything to make plays for the ballclub. We know how special this guy is."
It was suggested that Wilfork may have been playing the Jets with a little extra motivation in his tank. He had been the subject of an unflattering analysis in a column posted on the profootballfocus.com website entitled "What's Wrong With Wilfork?" and suggested that his pedestrian statistics were a sign of decline.
The article reportedly infuriated Wilfork's wife, Bianca, but he said he took it in stride.
"I don't pay attention to that," he said. "My whole career from high school through college, it seems the longer the season goes, the better I play. And nine years now, it's the same thing.
"It's just preparing well," he added. "Sometimes I make some adjustments in games and weeks, sometimes I don't make plays and sometimes I make a lot of plays. My thing is to be the best I can be for my teammates, whether it's making one tackle or 10 tackles."
The Patriots are playing better "team" defense, Wilfork said, and that has made a lot of difference.
"That's our goal," he said. "Each week we say we want to get better. I think over the past couple of weeks you've seen guys make a lot of plays for this football team, and right now, it's basically going to be a one-game season every week. We really have to buckle down and start playing our best football.
"We've seen we can play very well when we execute well," he said. "So I think everybody individually is stepping their game up to help this ballclub."
Still, this is not the time for the Patriots to rest on their laurels, he added. Although they could clinch the AFC East title Sunday with a win (and that would Wilfork's eighth division title), the Patriots are also 0-3 in Miami in December on Tom Brady's watch.
"A division game, on the road, playing them in December they've gotten the best of us at home in December, so everyone's going to have to come with their 'A' game," Wilfork said. "It starts in practice, playing well and executing."