The Patriots secondary was on top of their game against the Chargers, with Stephon Gilmore leading the way with a shutdown performance on top target Keenan Allen. All game long the Patriots defensive backs had tight coverage, racking up nine passes defensed in the game.
"I think we took a step forward these last couple weeks," said Gilmore on Monday from Los Angeles, crediting how the game unfolded with how aggressive he and the other coverage players could be. "I just think we got up on [the Chargers]. We made it a one-dimensional game, we made them start passing, that gave us more opportunities to make plays on the ball."
Gilmore's physicality on the line of scrimmage was especially notable on one play against Allen, reminding ESPN's Mike Reiss of Patriots legend Ty Law.
"Everybody knows Ty was a great corner, he played the game very physical," Gilmore told Reiss after being asked if he drew inspiration from the previous number 24 on that kind of physical play. "Those guys paved the way, I looked up to guys like Ty Law and tried to take little things from what he did to my game."
"The game has changed, when [Law] played he probably could've jammed [Allen] a little more," added Gilmore with a grin. "I'll take it."
Together, the secondary is rounding into December form as their effort against the Chargers was the best of the season, pitching a shutout. The veteran group has all the pieces to match up with anyone in the NFL and they're going to need to keep bringing their best games.
"I think we have an aggressive mindset, going into each game we try to throw the first punch," said Gilmore of the secondary. "I feel like we play physical on the backend and we feed off each other when we make plays. We get excited for each other and we try to keep that going each and every week."
At 6-6 the Patriots have little margin for error and now will face a potent Rams offense that can be tough to stop if they're to keep it going.
"I feel like we got a great team coming in this week in the Rams," said Gilmore. "We have to go through these guys to get to where we want to go."
Webex Quotes of Note
Cody Davis on the team coming together:
"I think you are really starting to see the team bond, especially here in the last couple weeks. It's takien a little more time than normal just given the circumstances, but the more experiences you go through together, the ups and downs, the tighter you get. And I think you're starting to see that with this team. We just got to keep building one block at a time. One thing that's unique about here is that they put a priority on that. Off the field just as much as on the field and in the community. It's just an important part of the Patriots organization."
David Andrews on the team finding their identity:
"I think we just figured out how we're going to win, how we have to play. A lot of the young guys are really coming on for us, playing really good ball and kind of learning what it takes and how you've got to play. We're obviously a different team and a different style this year, I just took us a little longer at times. We're here now, we can't change that but what we can do is keep improving and keep moving forward."
Anfernee Jennings on working with fellow rookie Josh Uche:
"We compete, we push each other, we try to make each other better on the field and off the field. It's kind of hard with Covid and stuff like that but we accepted the challenge and we've come a long way from when we first got here. We continue to push each other and we're gonna continue to push each other and continue to compete."