Stephon Gilmore needed all of 38 words to explain what happened Sunday during the Buffalo Bills’ 41-25 loss to the New England Patriots at New Era Field.
Perhaps that’s fitting. The Bills’ top cornerback didn’t have any answers on the field, so why should he in the locker room?
“It happened,” is all Gilmore could muster when asked how the defense continually broke down.
“Busted coverage,” was his explanation of Chris Hogan’s 53-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
“It’s frustrating,” is how he summed up his feelings after the Patriots piled up 315 yards through the air and four touchdowns.
Two represents not just the words in Gilmore’s responses, but also the number of holding penalties he took in the second half, both of which gave New England first downs.
“Penalties gave them everything,” he said in what was one of his more verbose responses.
Gilmore being in no mood to talk isn’t surprising after the afternoon he had. The trouble started early when Hogan got behind him for a long touchdown. After the play, Gilmore got into a heated exchange with Jonathan Meeks, clearly expecting safety help that never came.
“It looked like they were giving favor in coverage to the other side of the field and when you do that, it’s one on one back side and he had a good inside release,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “Hog’s fast. He runs by people and they don’t catch him, so if you can put it out there for him and let him run under it, he’s able to make those big plays.”
One of those people is not supposed to be Gilmore. The Bills came into the season with the expectation he would be a Pro Bowl-level player, and so far, that just hasn’t materialized. He was memorably torched against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets in Week Two, and has had other issues throughout the year.
Gilmore is in the final season of his contract, and the Bills have a big decision to make going forward. Elite cornerbacks in the NFL command salaries north of $10 million per year. Would they really pay him that right now?
“I don’t want to isolate one person or whatever,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “Obviously, collectively, we weren’t good enough today and it wasn’t even close.”
The Bills’ defense is now ranked 16th in the league – dead smack in the middle of the pack.
“Right now, we’re exactly what we are – a mediocre team,” safety Corey Graham said. “We’ve got to be a lot better. Especially defensive-wise, we’ve got to make a lot more plays. We have to play better. … You can never allow a team like that to stay on the field that long and get all of the long third downs. You’re just giving them the game.”
Making matters worse, Graham said, is that the Bills weren’t fooled by anything New England did.
“We knew a lot of stuff they were doing,” he said. “It sucks when you know what’s going on, know what’s going to happen, and you give them touchdowns. … That’s them guys lining up saying ‘We’re better than you. Stop it.’ That’s what happened. And we didn’t.”