Shoved around a year ago by massive New England Patriots Pro Bowl defensive lineman Vince Wilfork during a bitter AFC championship game loss, Ravens six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk exacted a measure of revenge Sunday night.
"One year ago, it was a totally different feeling coming out of here," Birk said following the Ravens' 28-13 win over the Patriots in an AFC championship game rematch at Gillette Stadium. "I don't know how to put it into words. It's really great to have this moment with these guys."
Working in tandem with offensive guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele, Birk played a major part in neutralizing the star interior lineman Sunday night.
Wilfork finished with just one tackle and no sacks. He recorded six tackles and one sack in disrupting the Ravens' offense a year ago in a 23-20 loss that ended their season one game shy of the Super Bowl.
Now, the Ravens and Birk are heading to New Orleans to take on the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
"He's a great football player," Birk said. "I told him after the game I have a great amount of respect for him. He's a great player. You just give it everything you've got and stay fundamentally sound."
Birk has said he'll decide whether to continue playing after the season is over. He contemplated retirement after last season, but had a better, healthier season this year and hasn't announced his future plans.
"It's not after the season yet," said Birk, acknowledging that a trip to the Super Bowl would be an appropriate ending to his career should he decide to go that route. "No one's entitled to go to the Super Bowl or entitled to a championship. So, obviously I'm ecstatic that we're going and ecstatic to be going with this team, with this group of guys, these players and coaches. It's a special group."