Patriots

Duron Harmon praises 'silent assassin' Stephon Gilmore after Patriots' Week 1 win

Duron Harmon praises 'silent assassin' Stephon Gilmore after Patriots' Week 1 win

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Stephon Gilmore is the best cornerback in the NFL, but unlike many other elite players at his position, the New England Patriots star doesn't have a very outgoing personality.

The top cornerbacks often talk a lot of trash publicly, let people know how good they are, etc. Gilmore is fiercely competitive, no doubt, but he's a little quieter than most. One of his teammates in the Patriots secondary, safety Duron Harmon, had an apt description of Gilmore following the veteran cornerback's excellent performance during New England's 33-3 season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

“Stephon is just a silent assassin," Harmon said. "He doesn’t say much, but he goes out there each and every week locked in and focused. We knew we liked that matchup. We knew we could leave Stephon alone and let him do what he did. JuJu is a good player. He made some plays, and Steph made some plays. That’s what you are going to have when two good players are going at each other.”

Harmon is talking about the matchup between Gilmore and the Steelers' top wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

Gilmore played well, keeping Smith-Schuster out of the end zone and preventing the speedy wideout from making any big plays. Smith-Schuster, when covered by Gilmore, tallied just four receptions for 43 yards. This production isn't good enough for Smith-Schuster against any opponent, but particularly versus a Patriots team that is going to put up a lot of points on offense.

What was Gilmore's strategy to slow down the talented Steelers receiver?

“Just play aggressive, get my hands on him," Gilmore explained. "He lined up in the slot a lot, just try to be aggressive. He made some plays and I made sure to get him on the ground. But it was a fun match-up.”

Gilmore was the only cornerback in the league to earn an "elite" grade from Pro Football Focus last season, and he's well on his way to doing so again after Sunday night.

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Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

The Patriots have downgraded safety Patrick Chung and running back Damien Harris from questionable to out for the game Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Chung has had heel and chest injuries but did play in the Pats' last game before their bye week, the Nov. 3 loss to the Ravens. Harris appeared on the injury report for the first time on Friday with a hamstring issue. The rookie third-round pick from Alabama has only been active for two games this season.

The loss of Chung could impact the Patriots most in their coverage of Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Taking on tight ends is something Chung has excelled at. 

ESPN Mike Reiss reports that Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse, out with a knee injury since Oct. 10, did travel with the team to Philly so he will likely be active for the game.

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Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

It was one of the most controversial calls in Patriots history...and it didn't come from an official.

It was Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 in the final minutes against the Indianapolis Colts. And it was 10 years ago today.

THE DECISION

It remains Belichick's most talked-about moves this side of Malcolm Butler. In a Week 10 matchup in Indianapolis, the 8-0 Colts faced the 6-2 Patriots in a high-scoring affair. Leading 34-28 but backed up at their own 28-yard-line and needing two yards for a first down, Belichick chose to go for it on fourth down and try and keep the ball out of quarterback Peyton Manning's hands.

THE PLAY

Tom Brady completed a pass to running back Kevin Faulk, who was driven backward by the Colts' Melvin Bullitt. After a measurement, Faulk was ruled short of the first down. Three Colts plays later, a Manning-to-Reggie Wayne TD pass and extra point with 13 seconds left a 35-34 victory.

THE AFTERMATH

There was plenty of second-guessing of Belichick's move. Had he outsmarted himself? Why didn't he punt and show more faith in his defense? 

“We thought we could win the game with that play,” he explained at the time. “That was a yard I was confident we could get.” Belichick had maintained it was more like fourth-and-long-1, rather than 2. Where the ball was spotted after the Faulk play is still the subject of debate.

Those Pats would go on to lose two of their next three, finish 10-6, still win the AFC East but get smoked by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in Foxboro in a wild-card playoff game. Manning's team won its first 14 games, then rested its regulars and lost twice before reaching its first Super Bowl as the Indy Colts and losing to the New Orleans Saints. 

TODAY

When Indianapolis reporter Kevin Bowen tweeted about the play's 10th anniversary on Saturday, it stirred up memories for former Colts linebacker Gary Brackens, who recalled the disrespect he felt from Belichick's decision to test the Indy defense. 

To this day, "Fourth-and-2" means only one thing to most NFL fans.

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