FOXBORO, Mass. — Stephon Gilmore thought he had Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen read. After Allen made a quick move inside, the New England Patriots cornerback believed he was jumping the wideout’s route by cutting quickly to his right.
But Allen kept running downfield, and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hit his top receiver for an easy 43-yard touchdown.
“Just trying to be a little bit too nosey,” Gilmore said after the Patriots’ 41-28 divisional-round win over the Chargers. “It happens. Gotta forget about it and make the next play.”
And that Gilmore did. Gilmore didn’t allow another catch all game. He also had a pass breakup and an interception over Allen.
“I had to make up for that,” Gilmore said. “I was mad at myself.”
“He got me on the out-route two plays before that. And I just kind of felt it and knew it was coming. I was able to go up and high-point the ball.”
So, what was the key to stopping Allen the rest of the game?
“Just being physical with him, getting my hands on him,” Gilmore said. “He’s quick at the top of the route, so I just wanted to stop him from getting downfield as much as I can.
“I was able to get in his face for the rest of the game, take it a little personal and make plays.”
Despite letting up the score, Gilmore allowed just a 62.9 passer rating against the Chargers thanks to his interception. This is par for the course for the first-team All-Pro cornerback, who has been neutralizing No. 1 wide receivers all season.
“It’s fun,” Gilmore said. “It don’t get no easier every week. It’s a challenge every week, and that’s what you play football for.”
Gilmore has his work cut out for him next week when the Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Gilmore covered No. 2 receiver Sammy Watkins in the Patriots’ matchup with the Chiefs in Week 6. Perhaps he’ll take on No. 1 option Tyreek Hill this week.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images