After practice, there is always a moment where Bill Belichick decides whether the Patriots will run up a hill that stands next to New England’s practice field. Players might have some false hope though because his decision is pretty consistent: they have to run. Running is one of the Patriots secret weapons. They run a lot, they run smarter than anyone else, and they run when they don’t want to. Players and coaches say that the running is a key reason the Patriots have engineered some of the greatest comebacks in football history.
“The fourth quarter. The fourth quarter is exactly what we are thinking about when we’re running,” said Moses Cabrera to The Ringer, the team’s strength and conditioning coach. The Patriots always do well in the fourth quarter. They have erased a double-digit deficit in four playoff games in the Brady-Belichick era, and no other quarterback in the history of the NFL has done that more than once. This year, they erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the AFC championship game. It’s because they run so much off the field that they don’t get tired on the field. The Patriots run in specific patterns to condition them in granular ways. The running is geared toward game performance, it is not just running to run.