To put it bluntly, the New England Patriots don't play like champions anymore.
ESPN's team of the decade, coach of the decade and player of the decade apparently won't sprint through the finish line because based on their past four games, they just don't have it anymore.
Here is what ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss wrote after watching the Patriots lose 22-21 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Land Shark Stadium.
When the Patriots have a chance to bury the opposition, they can't call on a killer instinct, and when they take an opponent's best shot they don't consistently respond in kind. Once tough as nails and counted on to respond favorably in critical situations, the Patriots now crumble.
Elsewhere around the New England-based Webs:
Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges claims poor drafting is the reason "Slowly but inexorably they are dissolving in front of our eyes."
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe writes: "Can anyone really feel good about the Patriots’ chances in the tournament? Your take-no-prisoner Patriots have morphed into conscientious objectors."
Under the headline "The party's over," Tom E. Curran from Comcast SportsNet New England writes the Patriots are closer to average than elite.
Providence Journal columnist Jim Donaldson remarks how sad it is that the Patriots have unraveled so quickly in less than two years.
WEEI.com's Christopher Price delivers his weekly observations on what we learned about the Patriots. There wasn't much to fawn over.