Key defensive tackle set to watch on from the sidelines.
It might be hailed as the best win for the New England Patriots this season but it has come at a heavy cost.
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is out for the rest of the season after tearing his Achilles tendon in the Pats 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons in week four.
Wilfork was taken from the field with what was suspected to be an ankle injury but later turned out to be much more serious for the injury-hit New England side.
Since being drafted, Wilfork has been one of the most reliable players for New England and has provided a key component to the side’s defence, especially against the run.
The Patriots have been thin at defensive tackle since training camp started in late July, in part because Armond Armstead opened on the non-football injury list after undergoing surgery for an infection.
Armstead remains on the non-football injury list, leaving the Patriots with Wilfork, fellow veteran Tommy Kelly and rookies Joe Vellano (undrafted) and Chris Jones (sixth-round pick from the Texans claimed on waivers) at defensive tackle.
In spite of this and other injuries, the Pats find themselves sitting at 4-0 after outlasting a tough Falcons side in week four.
Tom Brady finally found cohesion with his receivers and threw for 316 yards and two scores in what was his best personal performance of the season to date.
The Patriots have moved to the perfect record for the first time since their near-perfect season in 2007, however, it was nearly not to be.
After putting a 17-point buffer on the Falcons, a fleeting chance to tie the game was denied when Aqib Talib knocked down a Matt Ryan pass intended for Roddy White in the end-zone on the fourth-down with 36 seconds remaining.
“We’ve got to do a better job of finishing out the game,” New England coach Bill Belichick said, “but we did a good job of putting ourselves in that position with a 17-point lead with 6 minutes to go in the game.”
Brady said he was just happy to get the ‘W’ and move on.
“We slugged it out,” Brady said. “We came to Atlanta, which is a tough place to play and they’ve got a very good team. It’s nice to win and be 4-0.”
This time last season the Falcons were one of the early surprise packets, much like the Chiefs this year, as they sat at 4-0 and hype around them began to build.
Now in season 2013-14 and at 1-3 the likelihood of the story following the same scrip is slim at best as they find themselves scoring 8.5 points less per game, have a red-zone percentage of just 38, down from 60, and have a much worse turnover differential.
Ryan and the Falcons will be looking to turn all of that around when they play struggling New York Jets in week five, while the Pats will be hoping reinforcements are on the way ahead of their game against the tough Cincinnati Bengals defence.