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Belichick proud of team: 'They competed all season'

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  February 6, 2012 04:46 PM

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BB-dayafterSB46.jpgBill Belichick, in a suit for one last time in the 2011-12 season, met briefly with reporters this afternoon after the Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium from Indianapolis.

A small group of fans met the team buses, which Belichick noted.

"It was great to see our fans out there that were here to be here 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. "Otherwise, 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."

Over the last several weeks, Belichick frequently praised this team and the effort that he got from these players throughout the season. Despite yesterday's loss in Super Bowl XLVI, he did not waver on that today:

"Real proud of them. 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," Belichick said.

"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."

He was asked what he'll remember most about the season; from his response, the way New England righted the ship after back-to-back losses midway through the schedule made an impression.

"It’s hard to win games in this league so all the games that we won," he said. "I certainly remember all the ones that we didn’t. We made a lot of good plays over the course of the year. I don’t want to single anybody out or single out any one particular thing.

"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 publicly acknowledged for the first time that Josh McDaniels was brought back to succeed Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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