By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
You have an ultra-talented receiver. He goes into a game on pace for 90 catches, 1,418 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Your offense is riding high and leading the league in total yards, thanks in large part to your star receiver’s contributions.
Then he trespasses into Stephon Gilmore’s yard. And just like that, he’s gone. He’s a ghost. Space dust.
Don’t call it Gilmore Island, though. You can call him the well-established “Gilly Lock”, for sure. But Jonathan Jones had his own way of explaining the latest disappearance by an opposing star receiver who sank into his teammate’s version of the Bermuda Triangle.
“The Gilmore Effect.”
Call it whatever the hell you want, really. But we’re running out of creative ways to describe the play of Gilmore, who looks well on his way to another All-Pro season after his latest masterclass. Gilmore held Cowboys likely Pro-Bowl wideout Amari Cooper without a catch in the Patriots’ 13-9 win on Sunday, once again acting as an unbreakable anchor on the Patriots’ Ship of Lost Touchdowns, a.k.a. the defense.
“It was fun,” said Gilmore on blanketing Cooper throughout the game. “I was just trying to get my hands on him every snap. The defensive line put good pressure on Dak [Prescott] and we stopped the run. The times he did throw it, I tried to make plays.”
One of the only times Cooper got the ball thrown his way, Gilmore made one of the key plays of the game. After tipping a high snap to himself, Dak Prescott tried to make a quick strike to Cooper but threw it a little behind him. Gilmore had undercut the route, so he was in a good enough position to make his fourth interception of the season and help set up a Patriots field goal.
Just a couple hours later, Cooper had come up totally empty.
Gilmore has been as consistent on the field as anyone on the Patriots throughout 2019. But he’s also consistent off the field, the ultimate one-week-at-a-time player who always has the same even-keeled demeanor regardless of the results. He’s always prepared and he executes on virtually every play.
“You know, he just works and prepares so hard for his matchups every week, and takes those as such a personal challenge,” said Bill Belichick on Gilmore. “Obviously, this is a very good group of receivers, and a great quarterback and a great offensive line. But yeah, Steph’s as professional as they come. He knows the opponents inside-out, and his matchups, and the overall scheme and how to best play based on what our call is and what the situation is and so forth. He does a great job of that, so certainly a good day for him.
Gilmore always talks about every week being a new challenge. It’s gotten to the point where every week is simply a new pelt on the wall. And he’s evolved into the perfect Patriot, too, creating a ripple effect throughout the defense.
“That’s the Gilmore Effect. It fits in line with the culture here,” said Jones. “He does his job, shows up every week, doesn’t say much but knows his job and does it well as a silent leader, and continues to do his job and continues to shut down receivers.”
He may not say much loudly, to be certain. Gilmore is as soft-spoken as it gets. But he’s more like a silent assassin. One who keeps earning a new nickname for himself with every soul taken.
Cooper almost saved his soul from being trapped in the Gilmore void forever. He made a 15-yard catch-and-run with some separation, but a holding penalty by Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith wiped it off the board. Cooper also appeared to make a big-fourth-down catch late in the fourth quarter, but the replay showed he lost control after the ball hit the ground. Maybe that’s the Gilmore Effect, too.
After preparing all week for Cooper’s deceptive route-running, he had a pretty good handle on things. To him, it’s just playing football.
“You never know how the game’s gonna go, he’s a good receiver,” said Gilmore. “So I just try to trust my technique and make plays.”
Call it The Gilmore Effect. Call him whatever. Maybe we should just call him the best cornerback in the NFL.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.