FOXBORO, Mass. — New year, same result.
In what is becoming a semi-annual tradition, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore kept Robby Anderson under lock and key Sunday at Gillette Stadium, holding the New York Jets’ No. 1 receiver to three catches on five targets for 11 yards in a 30-14 Patriots victory.
Gilmore and Anderson now have squared off four times since the former joined the Patriots in 2017, and each matchup has resulted in a decisive victory for the All-Pro corner. Anderson has totaled just nine receptions on 21 targets for 59 yards and no touchdowns over those four games, and he’s managed just four catches on 13 targets for 22 yards against Gilmore in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.
“He’s a fast guy, so I try to get physical with him and play as hard as I can,” Gilmore, who shadowed Anderson on nearly every snap Sunday, said after the game. “It takes practice during the week — having good practice during the week and playing hard. I don’t know. I just try to eliminate him from the game.”
That was a slightly more diplomatic response than the one Gilmore gave last December, when he openly acknowledged the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Anderson could not handle his physicality. He would have had a valid reason to talk trash, too: Anderson told reporters this week Gilmore “holds a lot,” suggesting the Pats star needs to resort to illegal maneuvers in order to cover him.
Gilmore said he saw Anderson’s remarks but wouldn’t divulge whether they motivated him.
“You’ve still got to play the game,” he said. “I see it, but you’ve still got to play the game.”
Gilmore nearly intercepted a pass intended for Anderson early in the second quarter. Anticipating a back-shoulder throw from third-string Jets quarterback Luke Falk, Gilmore undercut Anderson’s route along the Patriots’ sideline, catching the pass but failing, according to the officials, to get both feet down in bounds.
Replays revealed Gilmore’s toes might have touched turf, but head coach Bill Belichick chose not to challenge the play.
“It was a back-shoulder throw, and I saw it before (Anderson),” Gilmore said. “On film, (Falk) doesn’t really throw too many deep balls. He throws a lot of back-shoulder. I wish I would have made that play. I don’t know if I got my foot in, but it happens.”
Gilmore went on to level Anderson on New York’s final offensive snap. It was a fitting end to another dominant performance by New England’s defense, which has not surrendered a touchdown since last season’s AFC Championship Game.
“I play every snap as hard as I can,” Gilmore said. “It’s always good to make the final play.”
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images