FOXBORO -- When Vince Wilfork walked off the Gillette Stadium turf following his team's 34-16 loss to the Patriots, he waved to the crowd, he slapped the hands of Patriots fans lining the visitor's tunnel, and he blew kisses to the those he couldn't reach overhead.
He looked like a man who was saying goodbye, and later in the locker room he sounded like one too.
PATRIOTS 34, TEXANS 16
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“I’ll take my time to think about it, but I think I’ve played my last NFL game,” Wilfork said. “I’ll do my due diligence, sit back and see if I really want to retire.
“I enjoyed every bit of my career. I enjoyed 11 great years in New England, and I enjoyed two great years in Texas with these teammates, unbelievable teammates. I couldn’t have any better teammates in both organizations.”
Wilfork hinted at the possibility of retirement earlier this week, and he said that if he does decide to call it a career his decision will be final.
"It's hard to walk away from something that you love and have been playing for so long. But we can't play the game forever," he told Patriots reporters on a conference call. "That's a decision I'll make at the end of the season and give it some time and some thought and I'll weigh different things and go from there.
"But whenever I make that decision, I'm full-fledged making the decision. I won't be one of those ones to say no I'm not retired and coming back and play that game. When I hang my cleats up, I'm gonna hanging them up for good."
If that was the last game of Wilfork's career, it wasn't a bad way to go out. He helped the Texans defense frustrate a potent Patriots offense to the point that his old pal Tom Brady was still visibly disappointed even in victory. And he did it in front of a fan base that cheered him for more than a decade, against a team and a coach that drafted him in the first round back in 2004.
"It's never special to lose," Wilfork said.
Maybe not, but the moment he shared with fans as he said his goodbyes certainly seemed to be.