Stephon Gilmore Overcame Struggles To Become Cornerback Patriots Envisioned

FOXBORO, Mass. — The only reason New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore came away from Sunday afternoon’s 35-17 win over the Miami Dolphins with just one interception, and not two, is because he’s a good teammate.

Gilmore’s first, — well, only — interception of the game came near the end of the first half as the Dolphins were threatening to score while the Patriots led 21-10. Rather than the contest becoming a one-score game, Gilmore snagged the ball out of the air on a target from quarterback Matt Moore to DeVante Parker, the wide receiver that No. 24 followed all over the field in Week 12.

His second should have come to close out the game, but he and safety Duron “The Closer” Harmon both high-pointed the ball and came down to the ground with it at the same time.

Following a “big conversation,” after both players fell to the ground, Harmon emerged with the interception. After all, Gilmore already had one in the game.

“We both had the ball, and we didn’t know who had the ball,” Harmon said laughing. “So, I think when he saw me, I had it, the idea of him having an interception today, he said, ‘You got it. You got it, Duron.’ I was just like, ‘You’re a good teammate. I appreciate you.'”

Gilmore remembers the conversation going about the same.

“We were holding the ball at the same time, but I told him ‘I’m a team player,’ so I gave it to him,” Gilmore said. “I caught mine, so I gave it to him.”

Regardless of who deserved credit for the pick, Patriots fans certainly are looking at Gilmore differently now compared to at the beginning of the season.

Much of the blame for the Patriots’ early-season struggles was planted squarely on Gilmore for apparent communication issues in the secondary. His season started to turn in Week 5, when he helped limit Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, but then a concussion kept him out of the Patriots’ next three games.

Gilmore came back stronger than ever and has had success in matchups against wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree and DeVante Parker in three consecutive weeks.

Despite solid coverage, Gilmore did let up a touchdown to Thomas in Week 10 and a two-point conversion to Crabtree in Week 11. His performance Sunday was his best and most consistent of the season, letting up just one catch on three targets with the interception. Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore had a 2.8 passer rating when throwing at Gilmore.

This is the cornerback Patriots fans envisioned when the team signed him to a five-year, $65 million contract over the offseason. This is also the same cornerback Patriots fans and media were ready to run out of town after those early season struggles.

Gilmore believes this three-game stretch is among the best of his six-year career.

“The secondary I’m playing with, the D-line, I’m playing with a lot of good guys, great players,” Gilmore said. “They make my job a lot easier, me playing with the guys around me. I feel very comfortable.”

This is exactly the kind of stretch Gilmore needed to win fans back over, and it’s working. Gilmore will have to be removed moving forward from conversations surrounding Bill Belichick’s uneven offseason of moves.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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