We all know that the Patriots are great because they have a great quarterback and great coaching, but I think some of the ways these things manifest themselves are subtle. The Patriots do a lot of little things well that add up.
Julian Edelman's circus catch on Sunday will go down in Super Bowl history. It is no surprise that FOX immediately started showing replays from every angle imaginable, but something happened so quickly after the catch and before the television went to replay that it would have been easy to miss it.
With the clock winding down to the 2:00 warning, Brady immediately gets everybody up to the line to snap the ball.
This was a big deal because it forced Dan Quinn into a quicker decision than he probably wanted to make. The speed with which the Patriots got to the line meant that Atlanta's assistant coaches in the booth would not have enough time to watch the replay to see whether Edelman caught the ball and whether the play was worth challenging.
Quinn either had to throw a challenge flag without knowing whether he had a good chance of success or hold his flag even though the Pats might be rewarded with a critical completion that shouldn't have been.
Quinn ended up throwing the challenge flag. The Falcons lost the challenge, and that ended up being really important because they lost their last timeout in the process. Think about how differently they could have approached the last drive of regulation with a timeout in their pocket.
I point this out because after such an exciting play, I can't tell you how many teams would have just let the clock down to the two minute warning to catch their breath. Atlanta's staff would have had the commercial break to watch the replays and advise Quinn not to challenge, keeping that important timeout.
I see the Pats frequently rush to the line after a controversial play to put pressure on the other coach like this. I don't see many other teams doing it. With the Jets I really only remember them doing it with Eric Mangini and Chad Pennington.
Yes, the Pats are great because Brady is a generational talent, but they also do so many little things like this to get an edge. Even as a rival, you have to tip your cap.