Bill Belichick presented Robert Kraft with the game ball after the team's 17-14 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh ... in honor of Kraft's 500th game as the team's owner.
"We've had a lot of big wins here in Pittsburgh," Belichick told his team ... "We've had a lot of big wins here. I think it's fitting that this one comes on Mr. Kraft's 500th game."
Kraft -- who's owned the Patriots since 1994 -- was choked up ... but managed to speak a few words after his players implored him to deliver a speech.
"What you guys did here today is so sweet for my family, and I thank you all," Kraft told the team. "And, doing it here in Pittsburgh is pretty special. Thank you."
RK said he and his son, Jonathan, have the opportunity to work in different business industries, but none of them compare to the NFL -- mainly because of the players' impact.
Kraft has enjoyed a lot of success during his tenure as the Pats owner -- the team has won 6 Super Bowl championships and was a perennial powerhouse during the Brady/Belichick era.