Patriots Notes: Stephon Gilmore Explains Sideline Scrap With Sammy Watkins


December 8, 2019

FOXBORO, Mass. — Perhaps it was because these teams were playing each other for the third time in two seasons. Perhaps the shoddy officiating had everyone on edge. Perhaps it was the playoff implications.

Whatever the reason, tensions were sky-high throughout Sunday’s New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs matchup at Gillette Stadium.

Tom Brady jawed with Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones. Kyle Van Noy had multiple facemask-to-facemask encounters with Travis Kelce. The entire Kansas City sideline accosted Dont’a Hightower after what some Chiefs considered to be a borderline hit on Patrick Mahomes.

The main event, though, was between Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who spent much of Kansas City’s 23-16 victory matched up against one another. After one play during the fourth quarter, Gilmore and Watkins wound up on the ground, far outside the field of play, wrestling behind the Chiefs’ bench.

“He was just blocking after the play, competing,” Gilmore said about the scuffle, which took out a cameraman and resulted in a full-team scrum on the sideline. “In between those lines, it’s just two good players competing against each other.”

Surprisingly — or, maybe, unsurprisingly considering the caliber of officiating on display Sunday — neither Watkins nor Gilmore was penalized for his roles in the fracas.

Gilmore, who’s making a strong push for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, allowed two catches on six targets for 13 yards in a losing effort, according to Pro Football Focus. He registered one pass breakup and one fumble recovery.

Watkins caught four passes on eight targets for 50 yards for Kansas City.

Some additional Patriots-Chiefs notes:

— Julian Edelman accounted for 95 of Tom Brady’s 169 passing yards in the game, pushing him past Troy Brown and into fourth place on the Patriots’ all-time receiving list. He trails only Stanley Morgan, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker on that list.

Edelman caught a game-high eight passes on 12 targets and hauled in a 37-yard touchdown on a flea flicker to open the scoring.

— When the Patriots opt for a non-quarterback to throw a pass, they typically enlist Edelman, the ex-college QB. They used running back James White in that role against the Chiefs, and White completed a 35-yard halfback pass to rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers.

White’s pass — the first of his six-year NFL career — came during the Patriots’ ill-fated final series. That drive also featured a dubious pass interference no-call against Phillip Dorsett on third-and-6 and a 17-yard scramble by Brady on the ensuing fourth down.

?It was all gutsy — all him,” Dorsett said of the 42-year-old quarterback. “I mean, if you see it open up, you need to take off, and that?s what he did. That is why he is who he is, because he will do whatever it is and whatever it takes to win the game.”

(Brady also picked up 3 yards on a third-down QB sneak to finish with 20 rushing yards on the day — his most in a single game since 2011.)


Brady slid down at Kansas City’s 12-yard line, giving New England, which trailed by seven at the time, a chance to tie the game in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. They failed to do so, with Bashaud Breeland breaking up a pass intended for Edelman in the end zone on fourth down with just over a minute remaining.

— The Patriots’ defense held the Chiefs’ explosive offense to 97 yards and three points in the second half. Just 57 of Mahomes’ 283 passing yards game after halftime.

Kansas City Chiefs Safety Tyrann Mathieu
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