Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL throughout his career, but he's consistently struggled to be productive against the New England Patriots.
Sunday's Week 12 matchup at Gillette Stadium was no different.
Hopkins was covered by Patriots cornerback and reigning AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner Stephon Gilmore for most of his routes. Gilmore won the matchup decisively, allowing just three receptions for 26 yards when covering Hopkins.
The Cardinals wideout tallied five receptions for 55 receiving yards and zero touchdowns overall. He was averaging 91.2 yards in his first 10 games of the season entering Sunday's contest.
"I mean, you put the ball anywhere near him, he's able to catch the ball. So he's a great receiver," Gilmore said in his postgame video press conference. "Two great players competing against each other. We both like to play physical and that's why you play the game, to play against the best. I enjoy those moments.”
A lack of success versus the Patriots is nothing new for Hopkins, whether he's playing for the Cardinals or the Houston Texans.
Check out this stat from Hall of Famer Gil Brandt:
The Patriots gave Hopkins plenty of different looks defensively, and that strategy combined with a strong performance from Gilmore, added up to a job well done against a top-tier wide receiver.
"We played some man, we played some zone, we blitzed 'em, pressed 'em, we rolled into 'em, we didn't roll into 'em. Like I said, you just have to mix it up on them," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said during his postgame video press conference.
"One thing Steph did was compete well, forced some throws. They hit a couple. They didn't hit all of them. Tackled well after the cut. Didn't have any explosive plays there."
Belichick also added that Hopkins is "as good of a receiver as we're going to face all year."
He's right, but Hopkins isn't the only quality wideout the Patriots will play against in 2020, and a few of them remain on the team's schedule.
New England will see a pretty good wide receiver on Sunday in Los Angeles Chargers veteran Keenan Allen, who leads the league with 85 receptions (in addition to his 875 receiving yards). In Week 14, the Patriots will go against talented Rams wideout Cooper Kupp. He ranks 14th in receptions and 16th in receiving yards. New England also will be tasked with slowing down Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs in Week 16. Diggs' 80 receptions are the second-most in the league, and his 945 receiving yards are the fifth-most.
The Patriots did their job on Hopkins in Week 12, but as noted above, they still have plenty more work to do against the league's top wide receivers before the end of the regular season.