Here's how Peyton Manning accidentally helped Tom Brady, Patriots win another Super Bowl ring

The Patriots out-executed the Rams during Super Bowl LIII. There's no two ways around it -- Bill Belichick brought his next-level chessmaster skills to the table and Sean McVay was not prepared for the counters necessary. As it turns out, the Patriots had a little bit of unexpected help in the form of their bitter old rival, Peyton Manning.

Essentially, Manning's mini-pivot out of football and into the media helped spur Pats backup Brian Hoyer, as he explained in a fascinating story from Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com Monday, to study a ton of the Rams offense and to help out the Patriots defense in shutting down Jared Goff and Co.

According to Breer's story, Hoyer bandied about the idea of there being some similarities between McVay's offense and Kyle Shanahan's offense. Hoyer played under Shanahan in Cleveland during the 2014 season, while McVay worked for Shanahan in Washington for several years. 

Sure enough, when Hoyer started digging into a breakdown from Manning on ESPN-Plus -- Manning did a "Detail" series looking at several quarterbacks -- it looked almost identical. "The offense is the same," was actually the line he used. And then Hoyer started to dig into the Rams tape, which "confirmed" what he saw. 

Also confirming details of the Rams offense? Los Angeles' appearance on Amazon's "All or Nothing" series. From Breer's story:

Then, he saw an NFL Network interview where Goff and McVay discussed the coach being in the quarterback's ear up until the 15-second play-clock cutoff, which was something Shanahan did with Hoyer. 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..

After spilling his guts on his preparation and unusual film study for the Super Bowl, Hoyer joked to Breer, "I guess that's the risk in putting yourself out there like that."

A couple of subtle details to consider here. 

One, think about much impact Hoyer had on this game for the Patriots. There's a couple reasons they brought him in behind Tom Brady. Maybe Hoyer's upside isn't massive, but he's a capable backup who is familiar with the Patriots and, as the McCourty twins point out in the Breer piece, a 10-year veteran of multiple NFL teams and multiple NFL offenses. He's been around the game and so many different teams that even if he doesn't bring a physical upside to the Patriots offense, he can contribute a ton as a guy running the scout team. The McCourtys talked a ton about how his ability to process certain things allowed them to change things up as a defense.

And two, as Breer points out, think about how the Patriots win. They live on the edges -- this is a game of inches, as anyone will tell you. But it's also a game of infinitely small edges. Belichick and the Patriots didn't win another Super Bowl because they had the best roster in football or the most dominant offense or defense. They had a very good team with an ability to win the very tiny battles. Little edges, like the backup quarterback utilizing clips of the Rams offense available through the media, allowed the Patriots to tweak their defensive plan and to eventually suffocate Goff and the Los Angeles offense. 

The Patriots are on an 18-year run of improbable dynastic dominance in large part because they find these tiny little advantages. This is just the latest example. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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