The Dallas Cowboys made a crucial second half adjustment in their first meeting against the Philadelphia Eagles this season when they had Stephon Gilmore travel with A.J. Brown, who gave Dallas fits in the first half.
Therefore, it wasn't a surprise to see Gilmore shadow Brown on Sunday night. A receiver of Brown's caliber is going to get his, but Gilmore proved on more than one occasion in the first half that he was up to the challenge.
Brown finished the half with a measly three catches for 45 yards. A far cry from some of the numbers the two-time Pro Bowler has posted this season. On top of applying sticky coverage, Gilmore tried to get under Brown's skin by trash-talking the Eagles star after every target, regardless of if the pass was completed.
After an incomplete pass on third down, Gilmore and Brown were locked facemask-to-facemask jawing for several seconds after the whistle.
Neither player was flagged, but Gilmore's antics undoubtedly worked as he forced a huge fumble on Brown on Philly's first drive out of halftime.
Cowboys' Stephon Gilmore clearly in A.J. Brown's head with forced fumble after heated exchange
That's a textbook punch-tackle from Gilmore. The veteran CB has put the clamps on Brown all game thus far and this turnover prevented the Eagles from scoring a potentially game-changing touchdown coming out of halftime.
The Cowboys didn't make points out of the turnover, but it helped flipped the field. That's significant given Dallas is nursing a two-score lead. The story here, though, is that Gilmore is living rent-free in Brown's noggin.
While Brown is leading the Eagles in receiving, he had a big drop on a deep ball from Jalen Hurts that would've set Philly up with first and goal. They wound up punting the ball away. It's clear Gilmore is aware of Brown's hot temper and the CB is pushing all of the right buttons to bring that temper to a head in primetime.
Best of all is that it's impacted Brown's play.
Throughout his career, Brown's had a propensity to lose his cool on the sidelines. He exploded on Hurts earlier in the season. Just last week, Brown and 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward were involved in a minor fracas amid San Francisco's blowout win in Philly.
It's pretty obvious Gilmore made note of that heading into tonight's matchup, which further hammers home why the Cowboys went out and traded for Gilmore in the offseason. He impacts games in so many ways and he's enjoying his best game as a Cowboy tonight.
What a time for it.