As the Patriots began to clean out their lockers on Monday following yesterday's AFC Championship game loss to the Denver Broncos, the media had one final chance to speak with the players at Gillette Stadium to close out the 2013 season.
Running back LeGarrette Blount said it perfectly:
"For this team, there's a lot to be proud of."
The Patriots finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and earned their third consecutive trip to the AFC Championship despite season-ending injuries to key players such as Rob Gronkowski, Tommy Kelly, Jerod Mayo, Sebastian Vollmer and Vince Wilfork.
"I think we should be proud of what we've done," added defensive captain Devin McCourty. "I think a lot of young guys stepped up.
"We had guys go down at a bunch of key positions for us, and guys were thrown into roles that I don't think they prepare for.
"I felt they stepped up and did whatever they had to do each week to make sure we had a chance, and we ended up winning a lot of games that way. I'm proud of the unit and I'm proud of the guys that were able to step in and fill roles and do whatever they had to do to win games. I think that's a building block moving forward."
The Patriots will have some decisions to make this offseason, as players such as LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, Brandon Spikes and Aqib Talib will all become free agents.
"I'd like to be here, but we'll see how it goes," added Blount.