February 12, 2019


McCourtys Tell All About Super Bowl LIII: From Flores's Plays to Hoyer's Crucial Role (Albert Breer, February 11, 2019, MMQB)

Stephon Gilmore made arguably the biggest play of Super Bowl LIII. Give Duron Harmon credit, too, for getting to Jared Goff on the Patriots' all-out, second-and-10 blitz. Don't forget de facto coordinator Brian Flores, either, for the call, or Bill Belichick for assembling a heady defense ready for the moment.

And then there's the other critical piece of that championship team: Brian Hoyer, the Patriots' backup quarterback, the only one of 46 New England players in uniform who didn't make it into the game two Sundays ago.

It may sound crazy to say that the Patriots might not have lifted their sixth Lombardi Trophy in 18 years without a guy who didn't take a meaningful game rep all year. But after listening to the way Devin and Jason McCourty talk about their backup quarterback, it's clear just how much of a difference Hoyer made on the team, and a play that will be forever remembered here, one for which he wasn't actually on the field.

And maybe the coolest part about all that is how his impact has a way of explaining just who the 2018 Patriots became--a group that squeezed every inch out of every roster spot it had.

"Hoyer's been crucial," Jason McCourty says from Devin's kitchen table, at his house about a mile and a half from Gillette Stadium. "Hoyer's not a scout-team quarterback from the standpoint where, 'O.K., here's the card, here's what's circled, and I'm gonna throw the ball here.' Hoyer lines up, and says, 'here's the card, but this is just a route concept.'"

"Bill would tell him, 'Read what you think and go,'" Devin says.

"He's reading our defense for what he thinks it is--'if it's Cover-3, I'm going here.' So the whole time, he's reading and reacting," Jason says. "So I think for us as a defense, if something gets carved up in practice, it's 'Hey, Hoyer, what were you seeing there? O.K., that's something we need to adjust from a look standpoint.'"

Details win titles in the NFL, and the Patriots have always owned the details. But even for them, following the bouncing ball on this one, all the way into the waiting hands of Gilmore eight nights ago, is dizzying.

We'll explain.

Posted by at February 12, 2019 4:06 PM