CenturyLink Field played host to a heavyweight prize fight Sunday night: Stephon Gilmore vs. D.K. Metcalf.
Gilmore, the New England Patriots’ star cornerback and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, matched up against Metcalf throughout Sunday’s 35-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and their battles didn’t end when the whistle blew.
The typically soft-spoken Gilmore clashed with Metcalf — Seattle’s physical specimen of a wide receiver — after several plays. One such scrap sparked a brief melee on the Seahawks’ sideline, during which Metcalf appeared to grab Gilmore’s facemask while a mass of teammates tried to separate the two.
Gilmore was asked after the game about his frequent altercations with the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Metcalf.
“Just two players competing,” replied Gilmore, who’s listed at 6-1, 202. “I felt like he was blocking me after the whistle. Just trying to keep my poise. Playing very physical between the lines, and sometimes that’s what goes on.”
Metcalf got the better of Gilmore on the longest play of Sunday’s game: a 54-yard bomb from quarterback Russell Wilson that tied the score at 14-14 midway through the second quarter.
Gilmore had good coverage on the play — Metcalf never gained more than 2 yards of separation at any point during his route, per NFL Next Gen Stats — but couldn’t prevent the long touchdown.
“There was a lot of extra nonsense honestly with all the after-the-whistle stuff,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said after the game. “(Metcalf) is a good player. Steph is obviously one of the best players in this league. So (it was) just competition. One deep ball where Steph is in good coverage and (Metcalf) comes down with a really good catch, and other than that, those guys were just competing out there.”
Gilmore surrendered just one touchdown pass all last season.
Metcalf also beat Gilmore for a 12-yard gain two plays before his touchdown and a 19-yarder in the fourth quarter that helped set up another Seattle score.
“The fact that Gilmore was going to have to guard him, the whole week we just knew that it was going to be a tough game for Gilmore,” Seahawks receiver David Moore told reporters. “D.K. got rolling, and it was hard for him to be stopped. You’re not going to stop a guy like that when he gets rolling.”
Metcalf finished with four catches on six targets for 92 yards — nearly identical to the 4-95-1 line he posted in last week’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The 2019 second-round draft pick has surpassed 80 yards in four of his last five games (including playoffs) and has four touchdowns during that span.
“I thought D.K. was unbelievable,” said Wilson, who shredded the Patriots’ defense with five touchdown passes to five different receivers. “… I think that since the moment D.K. got here, he’s always been passionate about the game, always been tough as nails, always been focused on being the aggressor and owning his space as a player.
“Also, I think also in the passing game, he wants the opportunity. He wants to be great. He wants to be the best in the world at what he does.”
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images