Gilmore Proves He Deserves Defensive Player Of The Year

NFL experts helped us remember that it’s been a decade since a cornerback earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in the league. Well, that’s about to change, because Stephon Gilmore deserves this honor and much more. He is the best defender of the season, and his performance in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals was stellar.

The Patriots’ corner had an incredible game at Paul Brown Stadium. He shut down Bengals top wideout Tyler Boyd and had two interceptions, including a 64-yard pick-six and two pass breakups in the 34-13 win for the team.

Cincinnati didn’t know much about Gilmore’s power, and he arrived right on time to teach them a lesson. Safety Duron Harmon had words of praise for his teammate, adding that Bengals cornerback Andy Dalton knew nothing about the Patriots’ All-Pro corner.

“I kept saying on the sideline, does (Bengals cornerback Andy Dalton) know?” the safety said after the game. “(That’s) an All-Pro corner, the best corner in the league. I guess not. That’s what happens.”

Gilmore deserves Defensive Player of the Year honors

Gilmore knew which route Boyd planned to run on each of his interceptions, which came on back-to-back Bengals possessions in the second half. On the first, he smashed the wideout, caught Dalton’s pass with one hand and help on while being slammed to the turf.

The second wasn’t as hot as the first. Dalton shot a pass to Boyd, and Gilmore cut the route of the ball and rushed untouched in the end zone.

“The first one, I knew the route,” Gilmore explained. “He kind of got me off the line, but I knew the route, so I undercut it and made a good play. And the second one, I kind of knew the route, too, and was able to jump it. We had good coverage, so I knew the pressure was going to get there, and I was able to make a play. As soon as he threw it, I knew I was going. I just had to catch it.”

It’s all about the film study. The Bengals had already made similar combinations in other games. Gilmore knew their route, so the Bengals better add a few changes to their gameplan.

Gilmore took a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception in Week 2, and he is the first Patriot to record several pick-sixes in a single season since Tedy Bruschi in 2003. He has six interceptions, and he leads the NFL. Gilmore entered the game with a passer rating of 42.7. That makes him second-best among all corners right behind J.C. Jackson.

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