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The End of an Era

Just a short week or two after the New Year and decade opened anew, the NFL's first dynasty of the 21st century came to an abrupt close.

Sunday's 33-14 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens effectively ended the Patriots era of dominance in a league that prides itself on its perennial parity. This is a team that won three Super Bowls during a ten-year span, and became the class of the sport.

But Sunday's game, shed light on something that has been brewing in Patriot Nation for years now, the end of one truly dominant era. Think about it, the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady- led Patriots won virtually everything attainable in the sport.

That complete dominance over such a short, and let's face it, unexpected amount of time, is what makes Sunday's Wild Card round loss sting that much more. However, it must be said that this is not the very same team that had a strong grip on the top of the standings.

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork thinks the reasoning behind the loss is quite simple. The way we played today is probably the worst we played all year”, said Wilfork to reporters. “We didn’t even come to play, we didn’t even play like it was a playoff game, more like a preseason game.”

Wilfork's right in his assertion on Sunday's game. One team wanted it more than the other did, and its obvious which team was playing which role.

Ray Rice and his Ravens cohorts came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders to start the game. On the game's first play from scrimmage, the running back from Rutgers ran 83-yards for a touchdown.

That was just the first shoe to drop squarely on the Patriots. The Pats fell into an insurmountable 24-0 hole in the first quarter alone.

Tom Brady certainly didn't do his team any favors by turning the ball over by way of the interception and fumble. Brady said to on his weekly appearance on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan program that he would've booed his team's effort too.

But the future isn't entirely bleak for the team that football fans from Madawaska from to Hartford call their own. The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds in the upcoming April draft.

As Bob Dylan once sang, the times, they are a-changin'. That lyric certainly rings true for a Patriots team going into some serious transition.

Like another team in this region used to perennially say during the cold winter months, let's "wait 'til next year."


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