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Bill Belichick takes chunk of blame for Patriots’ loss in AFC Championship Game, says he’s ‘proud to be their coach’

01.19.14 at 7:11 pm ET
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Speaking after his team’€™s 26-16 loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took a good chunk of the responsibility for the defeat, while also reiterating an admiration for his team.

“€œI wish we could have done a little better job today, especially me,”€ Belichick said in his postgame press conference.

“Any time you lose a game like this there are definitely things you don’€™t feel great, and there are a lot of things I don’€™t feel great about. That shouldn’€™t come as any great surprise. But it’€™s in the books. You can’€™t do anything about it except look back at it, learn from it and move on. Certainly there are some calls, some plays we would like to have back. I’€™m sure everybody who competed in the game would like to have something back. It’€™s tough when your season ends this suddenly, but that’€™s the way it is. We know that’€™s the situation in the playoffs. One team moves on, one team doesn’€™t. It comes to a sudden stop.”

“€œBut again, I’€™ll say this, whatever mistakes were made in that game by me and everybody else I think were all made with the intention of doing what was best. Not everything worked out best, but it was done with the intention of doing what was best and trying our best to make it work. It didn’€™t always work, but the effort and intent to do the right thing, I definitely think that was there, and it’€™s been there all year.”

Belichick, whose team lost its four regular season games by a combined 18 points, was effusive in his praise for the approach the Patriots took throughout the 2013 campaign.

“They were very much that, physically and mentally tough,” he said when asked about his club’€™s makeup. “I don’€™t know about ranking them and all that because it’€™s different makeup of the team and the players. This team worked hard from the offseason program, through the OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, regular season, playoffs. They worked hard, daily, all day long. And I think they improved quite a bit during the year. I think that’€™s how you do improve, you take the instruction you’€™re given, you work on it and you have positive results, you build on those, you correct your mistakes, you build on your positive results and keep going. As a team I think they’€™ve done that and individually that’€™s been kind of the trademark of this team. Taking corrections, working hard, moving on, trying to get better, not getting caught up on what happened in the past but just trying to do a better job next time out. I think that improvement served us well all year.”

Belichick added, “€œI’€™m proud of the team. I’€™m proud to be their coach. I thought they played hard all year. They played competitively every single week. Some weeks they played better than others, but there was never a lack of effort or toughness. Everybody trying to do their best, and I totally respect the team for that and what they did. I’€™m proud to be their coach. That’€™s how I feel about it.”

Some of the other topics Belichick talked about included:

(On the lack of a Patriots running game): The idea is to score points and we just didn’€™t score enough points. Obviously they did some things to try and take that away. That wasn’€™t unexpected. We just weren’€™t able to score enough points and we gave up too many.

(On third-down inefficiency): We were able to hold them to some field goals defensively, but our third-down defense and our third-down offense, especially in the first half, let them get too far ahead and they were able to stay on the field. They had the ball, had field position, and even the couple of times we held them to field goals we still didn’€™t have possession of the ball and didn’€™t have a chance to do too much. We’€™re just trying to keep them out of the end zone and that’€™s OK, but it would be a lot better if we were able to stop them on third down and get the ball back and we just weren’€™t able to do that. Conversely, we weren’€™t able to do it offensively.

(On the Broncos‘€™ offensive success): They did a good job of mixing the plays and as always, he did a good job of reading the defenses. [Peyton Manning] got us in some situations that weren’€™t ideal with his astute play-calling and recognition. We disguised and I think we got him a few times, but he got us a few times too. They’€™re a tough team to match up against with all the good skill players they have.

(On when he can put this game behind him): I don’€™t know. That’€™s a good question. Unfortunately we’€™ve been here before. We’€™ve won AFC Championship games and we’€™ve lost them. We’€™ll move on. We have to. We’€™re behind a lot of the other teams in the league — all except one in the AFC, actually –€“ in terms of the offseason, so we have a little bit of catching up to do. Starting tomorrow we’€™re on to 2014.

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