ORCHARD PARK , N.Y. — Midway through the final quarter of the New England Patriots’ 23-3 win over the Bills, Buffalo had a chance to score their only touchdown of the game. Instead, they kept going after New England’s best cornerback.
There’s a theory on why, and it’s one Patriots safety Devin McCourty is buying into. If the Bills weren’t going to win, they would at least try to score a touchdown on Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who New England signed away from Buffalo as a free agent this offseason. It was a regrettable plan.
The Bills targeted Gilmore on that drive three times inside the red zone, and all three targets went incomplete. Gilmore broke up two of the passes, including the incompletion that forced a turnover on downs and gave the ball back to the Patriots.
McCourty told the media he thought it looked like the Bills were trying to score a touchdown on their former teammate. And other Patriots expressed a similar sentiment inside the locker room while talking to Gilmore.
“I mean, they threw it my way three or four times in the red zone,” Gilmore said. “I’m like, ‘They really trying to score a touchdown on me no matter how much they are down.’ They’ve got a good football team. They played us tough, and they have a lot of great athletes out there, so it was fun.”
Gilmore allowed just two receptions on six targets for 22 yards with the two pass breakups. It was another dominant game in a string of them for the high-priced cornerback who suddenly is playing up to his five-year, $65 million contract.
“I’ll tell them what: Target him all they want, man,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said about Gilmore on Sunday. “I ain’t worried about him down there. He’s as good of a man coverage player (as there is) in the NFL. I say that each and every day. Good luck with that. I’ll tell you: You want to throw at that man? Good luck. Better go somewhere else.”
Gilmore was booed heavily by Bills fans after he made his first tackle Sunday. He wasn’t surprised.
“They are fans, and they feel some type of way that I am on the Patriots, so it’s all good,” Gilmore said.
“It’s part of it. Fans are going to be fans, especially (because) I played here five years. Maybe that’s a good thing, you know. The type of player I am.”
The Patriots now are 10-2, and the Bills are 6-6, so Gilmore made the right choice if he likes winning. He was asked after the game by a Buffalo reporter if winning was everything he thought it would be.
“Yeah, more,” Gilmore said.
Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images
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