FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots' defense stops an opponent on third down, there is often a surge of energy on the field among players before they race to the sideline as the punt team comes on.
But things might be different in Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The reason: A third-down stop doesn't necessarily mean the drive is over.
"Yeah, Bill [Belichick] said that in a meeting the other day, that they are a team who is not scared to go for it on fourth down," said safety Devin McCourty, one of the team's captains. "The biggest thing is awareness. We've got to know once they get in that territory that we kind of call 'Cuatro situation,' that third down is not really third down.
"We've got to be prepared for a play that might gain a couple of yards, but not maybe a first down, but get them close enough to the stick. Whether it's in a goal-line situation like last week [against the Steelers], or you stop them on third down and you're going crazy, you've got to realize that they'll line it up and go for it.
"So, I think it's more awareness, because at the end of the day we've got to execute whatever defense we call. And we've got to just be aware of how it might change the playcalling and what they're trying to do."
The Jaguars were 10-of-13 on fourth down in the regular season. Special teams captain Matthew Slater noted that they had three successful fake punts.
"Coach Joe [DeCamillis] has always done a great job of making sure that his guys are prepared. He's always called the games very aggressively and I think it's no different this year," he said. "Obviously, those three fake punts have been huge for them. I think we've got to do a great job of playing alert situationally, understanding their tendencies, when they like to call those, trying to get a beat on that, and then just playing our keys. We have to play our keys, we have to play disciplined and be prepared at all times for any number of things."
Belichick called the Jaguars' approach "very well calculated."
"It's a four-down game and we're going to have to stop them on all four downs," he said. "They have been very successful at it. It puts a lot of pressure on their opponents, it's helped them win a lot of games and they are good at it. I'm sure they will keep doing it."