PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Steelers’ playoff run came to a crushing end Sunday night, just one game away from the Super Bowl.

While the season may have ended in disappointment, the players aren’t giving up hope. Many of the younger players on the roster believe the team could be very good next year.

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There was a somber mood in the visiting locker room following the loss, but spirits were a little higher Monday afternoon at Steelers headquarters on the South Side.

The game will be a difficult one for the Steelers to forget.

“I’m just cleaning out my locker, which most teams in the NFL have done by now, and now it’s our turn,” said Alejandro Villanueva, offensive tackle. “The game was… we wished we could have played them one more time, we wish it was like the NBA and we could play them seven times because, obviously, we didn’t put a good performance out there. We’re not even in the game and we got crushed by New England pretty badly.”

Linebacker Bud Dupree said they will dwell on the loss at least until May when practices start again.

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“I feel like we’ll be way better next year,” Dupree said. “From the beginning of the season to the end, not just how we got good at the end, I think we’ll be better from the beginning though just because guys are coming back and everybody will be familiar.”

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As for the injured Cam Heyward, the loss was particularly tough to watch, but he has a good feeling about next year.

“There are a lot of things we can be optimistic about, but we’ve got to grow from this,” said Heyward. “You don’t just rest on this and think, ‘Oh, we can do the same thing.’ We’ve got to take some steps and get a lot better for next year.”

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The Steelers will have meetings all week, including the players’ exit interviews with the coaches. Then, the team will begin working on the draft and free agency begins in March.