Bill Belichick: Stephon Gilmore’s INT ‘one of the best plays we’ve had all year’

Andy Hart
November 25, 2019 - 12:01 pm

Stephon Gilmore is playing a truly elite level of football.

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In Sunday evening’s 13-9 win over the Cowboys in the rain at Gillette Stadium, the Pro Bowl cornerback held Dallas star wideout Amari Cooper without a catch.

In fact, Gilmore caught more passes than Cooper thanks to his key second-quarter interception that set Tom Brady’s offense up for a short-field Nick Folk field goal that extended the home squad’s lead to 10 in the wet, windy playing conditions.

During his Monday morning day-after-game conference call with the local media, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick heaped praise on his star cornerback and his key interception.

“That individual play was obviously a great play,” Belichick said. “His timing, it was one of the hardest catches…it would have been a good play for him to knock that pass down and he was able to extend and lay out and be able to complete the catch. It was an outstanding play. It was probably one of the best plays we’ve had all year.”

Gilmore now has four interceptions on the season to go along with a team-high 13 passes defensed. He’s generally considered the best cornerback in football and some are even promoting him as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

While plenty of Gilmore’s success comes from his impressive pure physical abilities, he’s also a student of the game whose preparation puts him in position to make plays on Sundays.

“Steph studies the receivers and the passing game very diligently. He’s very professional and has a great I would say passion for just knowing everything about the players that he’s matched up against, player or players that he could be matched up against,” Belichick said of his shutdown No. 1 corner. “And he has a great deal of confidence and trust in other members of the secondary, other corners and safeties, so when there are adjustments and calls to be made, he’s right on those as well. Look, studying film is a great part of the preparation and sometimes that can be very helpful. There are other times when teams will do something differently in the game than they have done in previous games. Maybe those plays were set up to take advantage of something that a different opponent was doing. So there are some in-game adjustments and in-game things that after you’ve played against the guy you are matched up against for a certain period of time, a quarter or a few series or whatever it is, you maybe start to get a little better feel of that matchup and also what they are trying to do in this game compared to other games that you’ve studied. It all goes into a big individual calculation, but Steph’s very good at that.

“We talk during the game and he’ll say things during the game, ‘This is what I thought it was going to be.’ Or sometimes, ‘They’re not really doing what we practiced against or what we saw on film, they’re trying to do something a little bit different.’ And so forth. Again, if varies a little bit from game to game. But he’s on it regardless of what it is, whether it’s something new or a continuation of tendencies he’s right on top of it.”

Just like Gilmore was right on top of Cooper for the key, game-changing play early on in Sunday’s win.

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