FOXBORO, Mass. — After the Patriots only managed one first-quarter possession and watched the Colts dictate the early pace of Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium, quarterback Tom Brady demanded that the offense accelerate its attack with its next opportunity.
They started with a grueling 16-play drive that included four third-down conversions, but that also kicked off a stretch in which they scored four touchdowns in four possessions. Obviously, the no-huddle has been extremely successful this season for the Patriots, but the attitude of the faster pace is just as important.
When Brady says it’s time to go, his teammates perk up and consciously try to make life miserable for the opposing defense.
“Get to the line fast, pick up the defense faster, start reacting a little bit faster,” wide receiver Deion Branch said. “Most of what [Brady] is saying is we want to change the pace instead of just going, huddle, call the plays, walk to the line of scrimmage, kill 15-16 seconds off the play clock. Instead of doing that, we’re getting to the line of scrimmage and going.”
By moving as quickly as they do, the Patriots know the defense is at a severe disadvantage. Branch said the offensive players are always a step ahead because they know exactly what they’re doing with their own substitutions and as they call the play at the line. Meanwhile, the defense has to watch New England make its substitutions before subbing in its own personnel and trying to call a play on time.
“That happens often, and that’s why we do the hurry-up offense because they don’t have time to make their calls,” tight end Aaron Hernandez said. “They’ve got to line up and play, and we’re ready.”
And when the Patriots can see the defense scrambling to catch up?
“I love it,” Hernandez said.
While the no-huddle can be about X’s and O’s, it’s also a mind-set. The Patriots become more detail-oriented, and they pick up on a killer instinct because they’ve got a swagger about themselves. That confidence has continued to build with the increased success, and when the offense does it right, they can see it in the eyes of the defense.
“The defense isn’t ready,” Hernandez said. “It’s not just about playing faster but being more focused basically. Because when you lose concentration in the game, you tend to not do everything as detailed, and when you’re focused, and you’re ready and everyone picks it up, you’re on top of everything.”