Patriots, CB Stephon Gilmore hold Amari Cooper without catch for first time as Cowboy

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore pulled off an impressive feat in Sunday’s 13-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, catching one more pass than Amari Cooper on Sunday.

The Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver was held without a catch for the first time since his stint with Dallas began last season, and Gilmore — who also picked off Dak Prescott — was largely responsible.

After the game, Gilmore responded to a Patriots tweet of his diving interception, which referred to him as the best cornerback in the NFL, by saying there is “no debate.”

“This was another great effort by Steph,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He just works and prepares so hard for his matchups every week, and takes those as such a personal challenge.”

Cooper was playing his 20th game as a Cowboy and entered the day with 56 receptions for 886 yards and seven touchdowns. Gilmore was matched up with Cooper on 26 of his 30 routes, according to NFL Next Gen State, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that Gilmore “was on him a lot.”

“It was fun. I was just trying to get my hands on him every snap,” said Gilmore, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2018, and earned first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors last season.

NFL Next Gen Stats

Cooper shook free of Gilmore on a crossing route for a 15-yard gain late in the third quarter, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty. He also had a 20-yard diving reception late in the fourth quarter that officials originally ruled a catch before overturning it on replay.

“That wasn’t a catch. It hit the ground and I knew it hit the ground. I gave my best effort to catch the ball; I just came up short,” said Cooper, who was only targeted twice and believed the rainy, windy conditions were why the Cowboys “didn’t throw the ball downfield how we would have liked.”

The 29-year-old Gilmore is one of the most soft-spoken Patriots players, but he isn’t shy in expressing his belief in his abilities. Teammates aren’t surprised with his play.

“He’s a monster,” receiver Julian Edelman said. “I get to battle against him every day and I love getting to do it, because it makes me better. He has a knack for the ball, he’s confident, and he’s got that steady mind where he’s never up, he’s never down. He barely talks. But when he does talk, it’s usually ball, and I love the conversations we do have.

“It’s unbelievable to have a teammate like him. You’re just seeing the tip of it. He does that stuff in practice all the time.”

Gilmore has four interceptions and a team-high 13 passes defended this season.

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