The Patriots don't have much time to reflect on Sunday's loss in the Super Bowl. The NFL draft is in two months and they've got plenty of picks, which means plenty of decisions must be made between now and April. Still, this is the week to sum it all up, and, despite the disappointment in losing to the Giants for the second time in four years, there's a feeling of satisfaction in knowing they came within one drive of winning the Super Bowl considering all their problems throughout the season.
"I'm real proud of them," head coach Bill Belichick said. "They worked hard all year. They competed well all season and we won a lot of games. The ones we didn't win we fought right until the end and played very competitively. We did that (Sunday) night and just came up a little bit short.
"I have all the respect in the world for the team, and all the players, what they've done for over six months. It's not about one game or one play or anything, it's a whole body of work. I really, really enjoyed coaching this team. I have a lot of respect for them."
Some have suggested this was Belichick's best coaching job, though it's hard to top the 2008 season in which he and his staff led the team to an 11-5 finish without Tom Brady. This team lacked the depth other teams had in the past, particularly on defense, yet it won 10 consecutive games after losing to the Giants in Week 9 and earned the top seed in the AFC.
The proudest came in Week 10 following that aforementioned loss to the Giants in which New England traveled to the Meadowlands and crushed the Jets in a pivotal division game. That, Belichick said, came at a time in which "things could've gone the other way." The Patriots had lost back-to-back games at that point, but never lost again until Sunday.
Now the focus is on the offseason, particularly the draft, which might offer the best chance for the Patriots to fill the holes on their roster.
"We'll try to take a little time here and regroup, and figure out some of the things we need to do and move forward," Belichick said. "The combine is in two-and-a-half weeks and I'm sure there will be a lot of other 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 here in due course."
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--Wide receiver Wes Welker took the blame for Sunday's loss, pointing out his inability to make the catch on what would've been a first down prior to the Patriots' next to last drive.
"It's one of those plays I've made a thousand times," Welker said. "I mean, the ball is right there. I've just got to make the play. It's a play I've made a thousand times in practice and everything else.
"It comes to the biggest moment of my life and I don't come up with it. It's discouraging."
McDaniels Takes Over For O'Brien
--Head coach Bill Belichick announced during his season wrap-up Monday that Josh McDaniels will be the team's offensive coordinator next season now that Bill O'Brien has officially moved on to become the head coach at Penn State.
The Patriots re-hired McDaniels prior to the postseason as an offensive assistant once O'Brien took the Penn State job. The anticipated promotion of McDaniels, who held the role of offensive coordinator from 2006 through 2008, was widely reported, but not confirmed until Belichick made it official Monday.
--Most of the players in New England's locker room were disappointed they couldn't win this Super Bowl for Robert Kraft, who's role in helping end the lockout during the time in which his late wife's health was deteriorating was a key storyline in saving the 2012 season, but there were also condolences shed for running back Kevin Faulk, who may retire at the end of the year.
Faulk returned against the Steelers after undergoing knee surgery during the offseason, but was never the same after playing 39 snaps in that game. He was active only five times down the stretch and didn't play in the Super Bowl.
"I just feel real bad for guys like Kevin, trying to go (off) into the sunset," defensive back Kyle Arrington said.
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