FOXBORO -- Stephon Gilmore understood what he'd be getting. He'd seen it on film before. Heck, he'd seen it earlier in the game.
With 16 seconds remaining in the first half on Sunday, the Dolphins came to the line of scrimmage with five receivers split out wide and a chance to cut an 11-point Patriots lead to four. Gilmore aligned across from DeVante Parker, knowing all along what route Parker would be running.
It was all thanks to the film study, Gilmore said later. He recognized the formation. He understood how Parker fit into the formation and what the tendency was for receivers working from that spot. As a result, Gilmore put himself in position to make his second interception as a member of the Patriots, "a huge play -- no question -- a big momentum play," according to Bill Belichick.
It was arguably the most important singular play in the 35-17 win for the Patriots. From Gilmore's perspective, here's how it all went down . . .
With three receivers to the left side of the formation, the Patriots matched the Dolphins with man-to-man coverage. Gilmore took Parker, the second receiver to quarterback Matt Moore's left, and he knew that Parker would be running a fade to the back corner of the end zone.
"I knew," Gilmore said. "His position in that formation, I mean, that's the only route he runs."
Gilmore added: "I just knew the route from film study. They ran that same exact route in the first quarter, and they just flipped the formation."
Two steps into Parker's route, Gilmore had already turned and started running. He knew he was going to have to cover some ground, and he knew that Parker's size made him a formidable down-the-field jump-ball receiver.
"I kind of looked at him and beat him to the spot," Gilmore said. "I turned my hips. I opened up before he even ran his route, and I was able to see it before him."
Gilmore pressed Parker at the line for much of the afternoon, holding the former first-round pick to one catch for five yards on three targets. On this play, though, he played about five yards off of Parker, and he didn't get physical with him. He didn't need to.
"I was pressing him the whole time, and he couldn't get off the press," Gilmore said. "I saw it a couple times on film. He struggled off press. But he's a good deep-ball guy. He's got great size, he can make plays downfield."
To recap: Gilmore knew the route; he gave the receiver an easy release off the line of scrimmage; and then he beat the receiver to the spot, undercutting Parker as Parker made his move to the corner.
So did Gilmore bait Moore into making the throw in his direction?
"It's kind of baiting," Gilmore said. "A little bit. But I don't think it's baiting because he wasn't beating me. I think baiting is when you let him get in a certain area and then you go. I think it's just film study and a great play."
After Gilmore high-pointed the football and returned it up the field, he pulled himself off the turf and made an "X" with his wrists to let people know, "I was locking him up."
Gilmore was targeted three times in the game. Two of those throws were picked -- Duron Harmon yanked away from Gilmore what would have been his second pick of the game -- meaning Moore had a rating of 2.7 when throwing in Gilmore's direction. It was the most dominant of three solid outings Gilmore has put together since coming back from a concussion and an ankle injury that kept him out from Week 6 through the Week 9 bye.
Gilmore insisted he isn't necessarily feeling more confident now than he was during the season's first month when the majority of Patriots secondary was struggling. Ask him and he'll tell you he's felt all along like he had these types of performances in him. It was only a matter of time.
"I'm always confident in my game," he said. "Everything not going to always happen how you want it. You keep faith, and you keep working on your game. I'm the type of player I am. It'll come out, you just gotta keep working in practice, making plays in practice, and it'll carry over to the game.
"I just take the good with the bad. You've got to at corner. You're on an island. Any mistake you make, everybody knows. They'll say something. It's part of the position. You gotta have a short-term memory and be able to come back and fight."