Hear & Now

Patriots’ Stephon Gilmore on journey to first Super Bowl: ‘It’s hard to believe, where I was last year’

This is a 2017 photo of Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots NFL football team. This image reflects the New England Patriots active roster as of Monday, June 5, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

Early in the season, the New England Patriots’ five-year, $65-million contract for free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore hardly made Bill Belichick look like his football-genius self.

Gilmore’s struggles were commensurate with the Patriots’ 2-2 start, because one of the team’s biggest problems during that stretch was miscommunication in the secondary.

‘It’s never going to be easy’

Eventually, the Pats got that straightened out and the former Buffalo Bill began looking like a smarter investment. And in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, Gilmore knocked down a pass from Blake Bortles for Dede Westbrook that sealed New England’s 24-20 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“They ran that play on me a couple of times early in the game,” Gilmore told Jim Miller on NFL Rewind. “I’ve seen it on film and I kind of knew he was running it. I just made the play. That’s our job, man. It’s never going to be easy. We’ve got to go out there and get the ball back to our offense. They came out fast on us and we were able to finish.”

‘It couldn’t feel any better to be here, a Patriot’

When Gilmore reflects on never reaching the playoffs during his five seasons after the Bills made him a first-round draft pick, he can’t help but shake his head.

“It’s hard to believe, where I was at last year and where I’m at now,” he said. “It couldn’t feel any better to be here, a Patriot. It feels great.

‘It wasn’t great early in the season, but we were able to overcome adversity’

“You’ve got to overcome adversity. That’s what this team does. It wasn’t great early in the season, but we were able to overcome adversity and were able to come out with a win.”