Robert Kraft explains why the Patriots' last preseason game was their 'hardest' moment of the season

The toughest part of the New England Patriots' season was not trailing the Atlanta Falcons by 25 points in Super Bowl LI, at least not according to Robert Kraft.

The toughest moment didn't even come during the playoffs or during Tom Brady's four-game suspension for Deflategate.

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Big moments from Super Bowl LI
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Big moments from Super Bowl LI
New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick (R) is interviewed by broadcaster Terry Bradshaw next to the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with his children after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady smiles after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Gisele Bundchen and her daughter Vivian Brady celebrate after the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. The Patriots won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Gisele B?ndchen with her husband New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and their daughter after Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrate after beating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after beating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) scores the winning touchdown past Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) and Robert Alford (23) in overtime during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons' Grady Jarrett (R) sacks New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) makes a catch for a long gain in overtime as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole (34) defends during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Country Singer Luke Bryan waves before performing the U.S. National Anthem prior to the the start of Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush participates in the coin toss ahead of the start of Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons as former first lady Barbara Bush looks on in Houston , Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Philip Wheeler #41 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a fumble by the New England Patriots in the second quarter during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins (32) tackles New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) during the first quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons' Deion Jones celebrates after New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady was sacked during the first quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) runs the ball against New England Patriots defensive end Alan Branch (97) during the first quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a touchdown on a 5 yard run agaisnt the New England Patriots in the second quarter during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks off the field with teammates after a fumble in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) scores a touchdown during the second quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford (23) celebrates with the ball during the second quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes a first quarter catch with New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe (25) defending during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Robert Alford #23 of the Atlanta Falcons scores an 82 yard touchdown after an interception against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Lady Gaga performs during the halftime show during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Lady Gaga performs during the halftime show during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) catches a tipped pass just off the turf against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons' Tevin Coleman (L) celebrates with teammate Justin Hardy after scoring agains the New England Patriots during the third quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) is tackled by New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports
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As Kraft told Peter King of MMQB, the toughest moment of the season, in fact, came after the last preseason game in September, because it meant the team knew they would not see Brady for a month.

Kraft told King:

"It was after our last preseason game [Sept. 1 at the Giants]. We knew we couldn't have any communication with Tom for four weeks, because of his suspension. Without question, that was our hardest moment of the year. Tom lives in the same neighborhood as me. So we're naturally going to see each other in the neighborhood. But we couldn't have any contact whatsoever, and we were going to do this absolutely by the book. We weren't going to do anything that would allow anyone to think we were violating the league's order. No meetings, no calls, no texts. Nothing. Our bond goes beyond football, and to go a month during the season without communication with Tom ... That was really hard for me."

Kraft isn't exaggerating about the restrictions during the suspension. Brady wasn't allowed to have any contact with members of the coaching staff, couldn't play or discuss football with teammates, and he couldn't receive game film from the team. He was basically cut off from the Patriots. Brady famously contacted one of his older receivers to throw to so he could stay sharp.

Of course, Kraft did not make his feelings about the suspension a secret. When the sanctions first came down in 2015, Kraft ripped Roger Goodell for the punishment.

Then, after the Patriots won the Super Bowl, Kraft made a not-so-subtle reference to the suspension, saying, "A lot has transpired over the last two years. And I don't think that needs any explanation."

Luckily for Kraft, Brady and the Patriots capped off a 17-game revenge tour in about the best way possible.

​​​​​​​

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Stars hit Super Bowl LI
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Stars hit Super Bowl LI
With my better half. #family
Last night!! Had so much fun celebrating @directvnow with @si_swimsuit here in Houston! And love to my babies @daniellepriano @allanface and @monicarosestyle!!!
Super bowl with dad. #SB51
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: Singers Ashanti and Ja Rule perform onstage at The Barstool Party 2017 on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Barstool Sports)
Superbowl Sunday! 🏈Who's ready?
WHAT!?!
Pleased with the game thus far...#thisismerisingup #gofalcons #thisisus
Touchdown Falcons!! #riseup #immoreexcitedthansheis
Let's go...(?)
The day has come! I've been waiting for this moment since I was 5 yrs old!! Thank you Edward Dada for recreating this jacket! 🏆#BeenWaitingForThisMoment #RiseUp #InBrotherHood #SB51
Hello from the Super Bowl! 🏈
Out here In H town @atlantafalcons #thisbudsforyou
This is for you, Monsters. I love you.
Who you got? #gametime #agreetodisagree
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: TV personality Maria Menounos attends The Barstool Party 2017 on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Barstool Sports)
Our sauce runneth over #TooMuchSauce 🍝 #BeenWaitingForThisMoment #RiseUp #InBrotherHood #SB51 @troubleman31 @hairweavekiller
We are pumped!!!! #superbowl51 #patriotsnation
Incase you haven't seen the stadium this is what it looks like this year. #gogiants @dnce @jblaudio
hey Shaq 👋🏾
#Htown #superbowl #weekend
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Actors Michael Pena and Dax Shepard attend the Super Bowl LI Pregame at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Musician Luke Bryan performs onstage during the Super Bowl LI Pregame Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Actor Harry Connick Jr. attends the Super Bowl LI Pregame Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Recording artist Usher and actor Harry Connick Jr. attend the Super Bowl LI Pregame Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Musician Luke Bryan and Caroline Boyer Bryan attend Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: (L-R) Attorney Thomas J. Henry, Azteca Henry, Maya Henry, and singer Fergie arrive at the Maxim Super Bowl Party on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Maxim)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Musicians JinJoo Lee (L) and Joe Jonas of DNCE perform onstage at the Maxim Super Bowl Party on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Maxim)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Musicians JinJoo Lee (L) and Joe Jonas of DNCE perform onstage at the Maxim Super Bowl Party on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Maxim)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Rapper/actor Ludacris arrives at the Maxim Super Bowl Party on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Maxim)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 04: Actor Chace Crawford arrives at the Maxim Super Bowl Party on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Maxim)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: Rocsi Diaz attends 'The Ticket' Super Bowl Kick Off Party With Busta Rhymes at The Corinthian on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) Terrence J, Lance Gross, Chaka Zulu, Ludacris, and Tyron Woodley attend 'The Ticket' Super Bowl Kick Off Party With Busta Rhymes at The Corinthian on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) Terrence J, Lance Gross, and Chaka Zulu attend 'The Ticket' Super Bowl Kick Off Party With Busta Rhymes at The Corinthian on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/FilmMagic)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) Antonio Brown, Snoop DOgg and DJ Khaled at Antonio Brown's Celebrity Slam Super Bowl Weekend at Joe K. Butler Sports Complex on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic)
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