Patriots

Big-play breakdown: Gilmore knew Parker's route before he ran it

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Big-play breakdown: Gilmore knew Parker's route before he ran it

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."

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Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it

I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays. 

Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them. 

It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.

ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick. 

While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise. 

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Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction of the Jacksonville Jaguars taking over the AFC title from the Patriots and facing the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta in SB53 drew a response from Tom Brady on Instagram.

The NFL's official Instagram account posted a photo of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the prediction of Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys QB now the analyst on CBS' No. 1 NFL broadcast team. Here's a screenshot, complete with Brady's comment:

Appearing on the NFL Network earlier this week, Romo said rumors of a rift between Brady and coach Bill Belichick are overblown. “I think they probably squabble just like any married couple for 20 years, and then they also love each other.

“I just think when you work together for 15 to 20 years, whatever it is, I think that whenever you have the success that they have, people have to come up with stuff,” Romo said. “I also think that I’ve been upset with my coaches before, and then you come back and you’re fine. And then you get upset with them, and you come back and you’re fine. It’s a part of sports.”

Brady and the Patriots report to camp on July 26.

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