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Kraft: Excitement went against Patriots this time

FOXBOROUGH, Mass (AP) - When New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sits down with network executives to negotiate the NFL's television contracts, he knows what they're looking for.

On Sunday, he experienced the wrong side of it.

"Look, we're all disappointed in what happened," he told reporters after returning to the team's stadium on Monday, the day after the New York Giants beat the Patriots 21-17 in the Super Bowl. "I can say this as chair of the (NFL) 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."

Those plays went against the Patriots on Sunday, when they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons. Among the turning points was coach Bill Belichick's decision to allow Ahmad Bradshaw to score the go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left so that the Patriots might have enough time for a comeback.

"I don't want to get into the whole thing, the whole sequence there," Belichick told reporters on Monday. "Basically, we felt like that was our best chance with the field position they had, to try to get the ball back and give ourselves an opportunity to have the last possession, rather than have the game end on a kick that (has an over) 90 percent success rate from the field position they were in."

The Patriots flew back to Boston on Monday afternoon and rode buses to Gillette Stadium, where a few hundred fans greeted them. Belichick said he appreciated seeing the fans who came out to see them in spite of the loss.

"It says a lot about those people and the fan base we have here," he said. "It's much, much appreciated by all of us."

Only a handful of players were available in the locker room; spokesman Stacey James said most players met their families in the parking lot and went home without coming in. Safety James Ihedigbo said the flight home was especially difficult because he realized the team would probably not be together again as a whole.

"It's the National Football League. The group of guys that are on that plane, it's rare that all these guys are going to be back and be one team," he said. "We have a very special group. We worked hard, we're a family and we played like that. It's a tough pill to swallow."

Defensive back Antwaun Molden said Sunday night was rough, but by Monday he had taken time to reflect on the season as a whole.

"To see where we came from Aug. 30 to this point, it's definitely a journey," he said. "I know we played well. We just came up short. It's a good thing to learn from."

Kraft noted that the team has two first-round draft picks and two second-round draft picks. The Patriots' braintrust will be back in Indianapolis in less than three weeks for the NFL scouting combine.

"We'll try to take a little time here, regroup, figure out some of things that we need to do and move forward," Belichick said. "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."

When they do, Belichick said, Josh McDaniels will be the offensive coordinator. McDaniels, who was brought in during the playoffs to serve as an "offensive assistant," replaces Bill O'Brien, who was hired to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.

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