On the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI

When people say “end of an era,” I think this is what they mean.

There was something about the stark contrast between Eli Manning’s ability to get down the field, pronto, and Tom Brady’s inability to do the same. There was something about that brilliant catch by Mario Manningham, and there was something about the inability of Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Aaron Hernandez to do the same with under 5 minutes left.

The old air of Patriots inevitably is long gone, replaced by a steadily mounting feeling of panic. In Super Bowl XLII, playing the game seemed almost to be a formality before handing the Lombardi trophy to New England. Ever since that fateful game, New England’s been unable to fully shake off its demons. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots had the perfect chance for revenge and couldn’t make it happen.

12 days until Red Sox pitchers and catchers report.