Matthew Slater Still Waking Up to Harsh Reality After Dreaming of Patriots' Victory in Super Bowl XLVIFOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater didn't really get to choose how he'd cope with the loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

Instead, his father, Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater, forced him to sit down and watch the game with him.

''I watched a little bit of it, only because my dad made me watch it," Slater said Tuesday. "But it was tough to watch it. We got so close. We were winning with four minutes left in the game. You could taste victory. A lot of effort and heart and soul was put into that, to get to that point. Unfortunately, things didn't work out. But we can't dwell on that. It's time for us to look to 2012.''

Slater said the loss has taken its toll, too.

''Obviously, [it's] really sour," Slater said. "I still have dreams that we [won]. I wake up, and we won the game. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for us the way we wanted. But I think we had a great season. I think we should be proud of what we accomplished. We'll look back on that at the end of our careers and be thankful for that experience. But now, we're just focusing on the year 2012 and getting better and improving and trying to put ourselves in position to get back to that point.''

Jackie Slater only made it to the season's ultimate game once — the Rams lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV — so there was a lesson involved. The younger Slater found it to be a painful learning experience.

"I think he wanted me to really relish what we were able to do, get into that stage, and it was something to be proud of," Slater said. "At the same time, learn from that experience and try to improve. I do feel like the new season is coming around quickly. There's a little change in the format as far as the offseason program, when we're starting, a lot of rule changes. I'm excited about that. When you get away from football for a while, you start to miss it, so I'm excited about the new opportunity that awaits us — working with new teammates, and trying once again to achieve our ultimate goal.''

Slater, a fifth-round pick in 2008, joined a Patriots team that was fresh off its loss in Super Bowl XLII. While no one wants to amass that type of experience, the only way to handle it is by turning it into something positive. Now Slater is hoping to take those lessons and put them toward a valuable experience this offseason as the Patriots prepare for 2012.

"I think it's important for us as a team to understand that we're not a Super Bowl team at this point," Slater said. "This is a new team. This is not the 2011 team, and we shouldn't come in here expecting for teams to just [say], 'Oh, that's the Patriots. They were in the Super Bowl last year.' We have to reestablish an identity. There are going to be new players, and we have to create an identity for this 2012 team, and we're going to have to earn everything all over again. So we're back at ground zero now, we have a lot of work to do."

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