The biggest play of Super Bowl LIII was made possible by Patriots backup QB Brian Hoyer. The play was actually made by Stephon Gilmore, who corralled a duck from Jared Goff for an interception that all but wrapped up a 13-3 win for the Patriots.
But, if not for Hoyer, New England defensive coordinator Brian Flores may have never called the blitz that forced Goff to just throw it up for grabs and Gilmore may have never used the technique that helped him make the play.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer explained how Hoyer’s experience with Sean McVay’s offense (and his streaming subscriptions) helped the Patriots defense make the game-changing play.
Hoyer began his career in New England, but he got his first shot as a starter in Cleveland. In 2014, his second year there, he started 11 games for coordinator Kyle Shanahan, then played for Shanahan again in San Francisco in ’17. Rams coach Sean McVay coached tight ends for Mike and Kyle Shanahan in Washington from 2010-13, which led Hoyer to believe he’d have some institutional knowledge of McVay’s offense.
Before the Super Bowl, he watched an episode of Peyton Manning’s Detail series on ESPN-Plus on Goff, and it hit him right away- the offense is the same. Looking at the Rams tape confirmed it. … Then, Hoyer went back to Amazon’s All or Nothing series on the Rams; it was about the 2016 season but had footage of OTAs from McVay’s first spring there. Hoyer recognized the language.
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Having played in the McVay/Shanahan system, Hoyer knew all the dirty little secrets of the offense, including its fatal flaw …
“Having played in that offense, they don’t have an answer for all-out pressure,” Hoyer says. “Their answer is for the quarterback to make a play.”
Hoyer’s contribution did not end there. While acting as the scout-team QB, he gave the New England secondary a tip regarding those all-out pressures that would lead directly to Gilmore’s interception.
“We were all up there [showing an all-out blitz]the way everyone’s been seeing us, moving around,” Devin [McCourty] says. “And Hoyer said, ‘If I’m the quarterback, I’m just going to catch the ball and throw it deep-all of you are close, so I’m throwing it deep.’ Sure enough, that week, we started seeing it more. Kansas City did it. Green Bay hit us with it.”
The adjustment, as Jason explained it, was for those in coverage, at the snap, to “play off and read the quarterback.”
Fast-forward to the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots dialed up the type of all-out blitz that Hoyer said would give the Rams problems. Gilmore played off coverage with his eyes fixed on Goff right from the snap.
Goff’s reacted to the pressure by just lobbing up a backfoot throw. Gilmore saw it all the way and made one of the easier interceptions of his career. He can thank Hoyer for that.