No matchup in Sunday night's game between the Patriots and Seahawks was more intense than Seattle wide receiver D.K. Metcalf going up against New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and the reigning AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner, but he was unable to slow down Metcalf.
The second-year wideout tallied four receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown -- decisively winning his matchup versus Gilmore in the Seahawks' 35-30 win at CenturyLink Field.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll described the matchup in a way only he can.
“It was an illustration of two real frickin’ warriors that wanted to go at it,” Carroll said. “It's a cool part of the game inside the game. They were matched up like that -- they both knew all week long, I'm sure. We didn't know until the game started, but we figured it would happen.
"And they were so hyped up and were kinda pushing and shoving right off the bat. We talked our way through that. We didn’t want DK to lose a chance to play the game we wanted to play by getting out of whack, and he didn’t back off for a second. He just played really good football. ... It was just a cool battle to watch. Two really terrific football players going at it."
The level of physicality between these two players was high, and it even reached a point in the second half when Gilmore and Metcalf got tangled up along the Seahawks sideline and both went to the ground. Players from both teams got together and a bit of scuffle ensued near the Seattle benches.
“I felt like he was blocking after the whistle sometimes, but it’s just two players competing. Sometimes that’s what it takes in between the lines,” Gilmore said, describing the chippy play between him and Metcalf. “You’re not going to back down, you’re going to keep competing and do whatever you can to win each snap.”
The longest play of the game came in the second quarter when Metcalf beat Gilmore deep down field, hauled in a pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and ran into the end zone for a Seattle touchdown.
Gilmore credited Wilson for making a pinpoint throw on the 53-yard score.
"It happens. I think I was in good position, Russell Wilson threw a good ball," Gilmore said. "You just have to keep fighting."
It's not often Gilmore is beat for a touchdown. In fact, he hadn't allowed one as the nearest defender since 2018.
Gilmore wasn't the only member of the Patriots pass defense who didn't play well Sunday night. There were very few defensive standouts after the Seahawks offense tallied 429 yards and five touchdowns.
Wilson is going to make a lot of defenses look bad this season, and at this rate, it wouldn't be surprising at all if he ends up winning NFL MVP.
That said, the Patriots pass defense has to execute better individually and as a unit if this team is going to be a legitimate contender in the AFC. These types of lackluster performances aren't going to cut it against a Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs team or a Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens squad.