Patriots must turn page after close defeat

New England looks to off-season after falling short in Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Less than an hour after losing the Super Bowl again, quarterback Tom Brady walked to the postgame podium.

New England quarterback Tom Brady won Super Bowls in his first three tries but has come up short in his past two trips - both against New York.  PAUL SANCYA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
New England quarterback Tom Brady won Super Bowls in his first three tries but has come up short in his past two trips - both against New York.

“I’ll keep coming to this game and keep trying,” he said. “I’d rather come to this game and lose than not get here.”

He and the Patriots have been there five times in the past 11 years. But their 21-17 loss on Sunday night was their second in a row to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

Brady won his first 10 postseason games – and three Super Bowls – with the Patriots. Since then, they’re 6-6 in the postseason with a seven-year drought since their last championship.

Now what?

Some of the biggest issues facing the Patriots are whether to re-sign Wes Wel­ker, who to take with their two draft choices in the first round and two in the second and how to improve a mediocre defense and inconsistent running game.
Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions but on Sunday dropped a pass, a bit off target, with about four minutes left that would have put the Patriots near
the Giants 20-yard line with a 17-15 lead.
Team owner Robert Kraft wants him back, and Brady said, “He’s a phenomenal player and teammate, and I love that guy.”

Welker would have a different offensive coordinator. Josh McDaniels, who held that position from 2006-08, rejoined the team as an offensive assistant for the playoffs after serving in that spot with the St. Louis Rams. He replaces Bill O’Brien, who left to succeed Joe Paterno as head coach at Penn State.

More immediately, coach Bill Belichick will focus on the NFL Scouting Combine for college players from Feb. 22-28 at Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of Sunday’s loss. With four picks in the top two rounds, barring trades, the Patriots could have another solid draft.

“The combine is in 2½ weeks,” Belichick said Monday. “I’m sure there will be (a) lot of things on the agenda between now and then, so we’ll just take them as they come.”

Among the turning points in Sunday’s game was Belichick’s decision to allow Ahmad Bradshaw to score the go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left so 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 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 a more than) 90 percent success rate from the field position they were in.”

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