|Vince Wilfork calls the NFL's penchant for fining him "ridiculous." (File/The Boston Globe)|
FOXBOROUGH - Perfection has come at a price for Vince Wilfork.
The nose tackle and anchor of a defense that has helped the Patriots go 18-0 en route to the Super Bowl Feb. 3 has been fined for the fourth time this season by the NFL.
Wilfork was docked $5,000 for unnecessary roughness for a 15-yard facemask penalty he incurred during the first quarter of the Patriots' 21-12 AFC Championship game win over San Diego last Sunday. Wilfork was engaged with a blocker when he reached out with his right hand and grabbed the facemask of Chargers running back Michael Turner.
"It's bad because you go out there and you get a penalty and the first thing you say is, 'Am I going to get fined?' " said Wilfork. "It's ridiculous. Anything you do that's a penalty, it's a fine. I don't think the game should be like that, but the NFL makes the rules and we have to abide by them. We have to do a better job of abiding by them."
Wilfork was dismayed by his latest fine, feeling it may have been more of a cumulative punishment.
Wilfork was fined $12,500 for a low hit to the left knee of Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman Sept. 23 at Gillette Stadium. He was fined $5,000 for a late hit off the ball on Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten Oct. 14, and in the regular-season finale against the New York Giants Dec. 29, Wilfork was fined $15,000 for sticking his right index finger inside the facemask of running back Brandon Jacobs as the two jawed following a second-quarter scrum that started after Junior Seau was penalized for holding down Jacobs.
In yesterday's editions of the Newark Star-Ledger, Jacobs said he was looking forward to facing Wilfork again in the Super Bowl.
"I couldn't tell you whether Vince wanted to do that or he just wanted to point and didn't realize his hand was that close," Jacobs told the newspaper. "I don't want to go out and cost my team a major penalty because that's not what I'm about. But it's going to bring a little more fire to me."
Wilfork said he didn't appeal the fine from the incident involving Jacobs, calling his actions "stupid."
"I didn't have any business with my finger in his facemask," said Wilfork. "I didn't touch him, but I understand they saw my finger and the intention. I didn't even appeal that one."
Wilfork said he shook hands with Jacobs after that game and wished him luck.
"We said we hope we meet up again," Wilfork said. "It's no blood loss. I don't think there's anything there. The media is trying to blow it up, but there is nothing there. What goes on between the lines is between the lines. I didn't mean anything by it. It got blown out of proportion. I'm going to see him at the game and in Arizona, and I'm going to wish him luck.
"I can't say anything negative about him. He's a good back."
Wilfork appealed the fine he received for the Losman hit and it was reduced by $2,500, but the league will recoup that money with his latest fine.
"Losman, Witten, and the facemask, $5,000, that's the thing that [ticked] me off," said Wilfork. "When I screw up, I admit I screwed up. Those other three fines were bogus. I didn't want to get into it with the NFL. They'll probably try to fine me or suspend me. That's something I'll try to take care of in the offseason."
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.