How Will Texans Handle Matchup Between Gilmore, Hopkins?

Gilmore’s interception against the Cowboys was the Patriots’ 20th of the season and his fourth

Brandon Scott
November 27, 2019 - 1:33 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- When DeAndre Hopkins and Stephon Gilmore matchup in Sunday night’s game between the Texans and Patriots, it will be the best against the best. 

Hopkins is well-understood as the one of the game’s elite wide receivers and Gilmore is making a case this season as the best cornerback in pro football.

“Great player, been playing for a long time. He’s got good size, really good moving skills for his size. He’s a very smooth player, very instinctive player,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday when asked about Gilmore. “Usually covers the best receiver in man-to-man coverage. Obviously, he studies tape a lot. Just a really, really good player.”

Gilmore’s so good, he is arguably the biggest concern for quarterback Deshaun Watson on Sunday night.

Gilmore was the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October after recording 11 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions as part of a defense that held opponents to just three touchdowns the entire month.

Seth Payne talked about how well Gilmore is playing and what the matchup with Hopkins could mean for the Texans’ offense. 

“My concern would be that if they put Stephon Gilmore at DeAndre Hopkins, the best thing this week might be for DeAndre Hopkins to not get a bunch of catches. … The challenge becomes, is Deshaun not going to lock on DeAndre too much? Is he going to move on from the bad read? 

It helps a lot that Will Fuller is out there.”

The Patriots scoring defense is performing on a near-record pace. 

They have only allowed nine touchdowns in 11 games. The Patriots have three games with four interceptions this season and they’ve held teams to a league-best 25-for-132 on third down.

The Patriots defense is leading the league with 20 interceptions through 11 games and they’re on pace to finish with 29 interceptions this season, which would tie for the most in the Bill Belichick era. 

Gilmore’s second quarter interception against the Cowboys was the Patriots’ 20th of the season and his fourth.

O’Brien was asked whether he’s able to stop as a fan and appreciate the likes of Gilmore and Hopkins battling.

“Not during the game,” O’Brien laughed. “But I think anytime Hop has matched up against the best, it’s always a great thing to see in pro football, right? Whether it’s Gilmore, or Jalen Ramsey, or whoever it is throughout the years, it’s always a great matchup. Very competitive guys that are playing at the highest level, so it’s always fun to be a part of that.”

Fuller could be an x-factor if the Gilmore-Hopkins matchup is a wash for Houston’s offense.

Last week against the Colts, Fuller returned from a hamstring injury with 140 receiving yards on seven catches, including a 51-yard reception in the third quarter.

Fuller brings a crucial downfield element to the Texans offense that can only be defended with speed. He is one of six Texans with at least one 30-yard reception and the teams trails only the Chiefs in most receptions of 30 yards or more.

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