FOXBORO, Mass. — Stephon Gilmore’s first poor performance of the 2019 season came at the worst possible time for the New England Patriots.
Gilmore, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year front-runner entering Week 17, struggled mightily against Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker, who finished with eight catches on 11 targets for 137 yards in Sunday’s 27-24 Patriots loss at Gillette Stadium.
“He made some plays,” the Pro Bowl cornerback said after the game. “I feel like I let 52 other players down today, but he made some plays. It is what it is. I can handle it. I know the type of player I am. I know I’ve just got to go back to the practice field and practice harder and get ready for the (next) game.”
The performance was Gilmore’s worst since Tennessee Titans wideout Corey Davis beat him six times for 98 yards and a touchdown in Week 10 of last season. He’d been nearly unconquerable in 2019, silencing opposing No. 1 receivers on a near-weekly basis.
Parker was one of those victims, too. Gilmore held him without a catch on seven targets in New England’s 43-0 win over Miami in Week 2. The Dolphins veteran dominated that matchup Sunday, however, tallying four receptions of 20-plus yards, including an acrobatic 24-yarder over Gilmore that helped set up Mike Gesicki’s game-winning touchdown.
“He made big catches,” said Gilmore, who entered the game ranked first in the NFL in passes defended, tied for first in interceptions and second in passer rating against. “He made some tough plays. He had a better day today.”
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 29, 2019
Parker’s impressive showing capped a career year for the 26-year-old, who finished with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns.
A win Sunday would have given the Patriots the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye. They’ll now need to play on wild-card weekend for the first time since 2009.
“We have to (move on),” Gilmore said. “When it’s good, you do it. When it’s bad, you’ve got to do it. We’ve got to move on. Can’t do nothing about it. We’ve just got to play better.”