The Patriots dedicated their 2011 season to the memory of Myra Kraft, the wife of owner Robert Kraft, who died on July 20, 2011 after a long fight against cancer. At both home and away games, the Patriots wore patches bearing Kraft's initials, MHK, on their uniforms. The Patriots elected to wear their Super Bowl patches on the right side of their uniforms, so that they could keep the MHK patch on the left as it had been all season. The Patriots were the only 2011 division winner that won their division the previous season.
The Patriots lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants by a score of 21-17. The Patriots, as was the case in their previous appearance against these same Giants in Super Bowl XLII, had a chance to join the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Green Bay Packers as the only teams to win at least four Super Bowls (the Packers, who had entered the 2011 season as the defending champions, had not yet won a fourth Super Bowl when the Patriots had last appeared). Instead, the Patriots tied a then-NFL record for most losses in a Super Bowl that had been set by the Minnesota Vikings and tied by the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills, each of whom had lost four; that record was since broken by the Broncos, whose loss in Super Bowl XLVIII was their fifth.