FOXBORO (CBS) – They would have much preferred a victory, but when Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick arrived back at Gillette Stadium on Monday afternoon, they had plenty to be proud of.
“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,” Kraft said Monday. “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.”
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Belichck also took time to thank the fans who showed up at the Patriots’ home to welcome home the team, even in defeat.
“I don’t have too much to add after last night other than it was great to see our fans out there that were here to be here when the buses pulled up,” Belichick said. “It says a lot about those people and the fan base we have here. It’s much, much appreciated by all of us.”
Belichick also discussed the character of his team.
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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. I have all the respect in the world for the team and all the players and what they’ve done for over six months. It’s not about one game or one play or anything, it’s the whole body of work.
“I really, really enjoyed coaching this team and have a lot of respect for them.”