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Belichick, Kraft praise team and fans after Super Bowl loss

Bill Belichick spoke with reporters today after the Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium.

Bill Greene/Globe staff

Bill Belichick spoke with reporters today after the Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft met with reporters this afternoon after the team returned to Gillette Stadium from Indianapolis.

Belichick praised his team, despite their loss to the Giants in yesterday’s Super Bowl.

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“Real proud of them,” he said. “I thought they worked hard all year, they competed well all season. We won a lot of games and even the ones we didn’t win, we fought right to the end and played very competitively. We did that last night, just came up a little bit short.”

He was asked what he’ll remember most about the season; his response was the way New England righted the ship after back-to-back losses midway through the season.

“I’ve talked about the Pittsburgh game. I thought that was a big step for us; to come back off those two losses against Pittsburgh and the Giants, to go down and beat New York in New York, beat the Jets, that was a big game for us where things might have started to go the other way but they didn’t. Then it was nine straight after that. The Denver games, those were both big games for us; didn’t go perfectly but in the end we got things straightened out out there and played well here in the playoffs. There are a lot of good memories this year.”

Belichick also acknowledged the fans who were waiting for the team to arrive today at the stadium.

“It was great to see our fans out there when the buses pulled up. It says a lot about those people and the fan base we have here. It’s much, much appreciated by all of us,” he said.

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Looking ahead, Belichick said team officials will soon be back to work.

“We’ll try to take a little time here, regroup, figure out some of things that we need to do and move forward. The Combine is in two and a half weeks. I’m sure there will be lot of things on the agenda between now and then so we’ll just take them as they come. For right now, we’re just kind of collecting our thoughts and we’ll figure it out in due course.”

In comments provided by the team’s media relations staff, Kraft looked back on the season.

“I must tell you that the strength of spirit that I saw with this team is unlike any other team I’ve seen in my 18 years in the NFL. I think that that sense of spirit was ignited by our fans – the way they supported our team and also the way they supported our family. That’s something I’m forever going to be grateful for because I think this was a memorable season and one that I won’t forget for a long time. You have a six percent chance of going to the Super Bowl and three percent chance of winning. I think the coaching staff and players really did a remarkable job this year.”

About yesterday’s game, Kraft said:

“We’re all disappointed in what happened. The beauty of the NFL and the reason, I can say this as Chair of the Broadcast Committee, the reason that the networks pay us the large fees that they do is that no one knows what is going to happen in a game — head coach, quarterback, owner, D-linemen — no one knows. It’s two or three plays that make the difference; that makes the game so exciting. I’m very proud of this team and what they accomplished this year.”

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