FOXBORO, Mass. — Opposing quarterbacks, Stephon Gilmore wants you to throw at him. And this doesn’t seem to be some sort of reverse psychology. The New England Patriots cornerback actually seems to embrace being targeted.
“It’s fun,” Gilmore said Thursday night. “That’s what I like. So, any time he comes at me, I can make plays.”
And that he did. Gilmore intercepted one pass from Jones. He had pass breakups on the other four incompletions, one of which was picked off by linebacker John Simon.
“He threw at me the first play,” Gilmore said about the 8-yard completion. “I’m like, ‘OK, it’s going to be this type of game.’ So, I was happy he kept throwing. Just keep making plays.”
You could tell that Gilmore was holding back in the assessment of the situation. Like when a reporter asked the All-Pro cornerback if he likes going against quarterbacks for the first time to break them in to not target him.
“Yeah, I guess he didn’t know — or I don’t know,” Gilmore said. “It’s fun. You make them one-dimensional. Stop the run and make them throw it. It’s fun to be a cornerback, so that’s what I love.”
Gilmore had a good read on his interception. He said the Giants ran the same play twice in a row. Gilmore could tell Jones thought the Patriots were in man when they really were in zone. So, he came off of his assignment and picked off the pass.
Gilmore credited his teammates with his ability to make so many plays in a game. He trusts the Patriots’ safeties behind him, so he can go for the ball. It also comes down to some key fundamentals.
“Just trying to play good technique, trying to play patient and keep fighting until the end,” Gilmore said. “And just knowing routes. And also trusting my teammates. We’ve got Devin (McCourty), Duron (Harmon), (Patrick) Chung and Terrence (Brooks), those guys back there, we can really trust them, trust where their help is at and just try to make plays. It makes my job easier because I’ve got guys around me that I trust, and I play fast from doing that.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn’t surprised by games like these from Gilmore because he sees it every day in practice. He’s also been putting together these types of performances throughout his three seasons with the Patriots.
“He does such a great job playing the ball and had some good breaks,” Belichick said. “That last play down the sideline was a really good finish where the receiver had the ball and he got it on the way down, but he had some great pass breakups. I mean, look, he’s a very talented player and works extremely hard to prepare for the game, study his opponents and study the passing game that our opponents are going to run. This is a good example here on a short week of how diligent he works and it paid off. He’s done a great job for us.”
Gilmore has now allowed just 19 catches on 41 targets for 248 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions, six pass breakups and a 45.6 passer rating this season.