SOMERVILLE - The old fear had returned. It had been too good for too long.
And at the center of that fear was the thing that has been too good to be true for all that time: Tom Brady, the superhero, the 34-year-old.
“You just can’t be sure how long the Tom Brady window will be open,’’ said Ian Urquart. He was at Mo’s Tavern in Somerville yesterday afternoon, eyes on the big-screen TV and, like everyone in the room of mostly 30somethings, he was nervous. This was not the clinical strike Brady and Bill Belichick had spoiled fans with all season. This was as up-and-down as a game of football can get.
It had all the old drama, the fatalism of being a Boston sports fan butting up against the confidence built from a decade of unprecedented success and against-the-wall miracles from all four of our professional teams.
But with Brady, “you have this feeling that he can only be here so long,’’ said Tyler Fairchild, who was watching with a bunch of his boyhood buddies from Plymouth. “We’re in the AFC Championship game. We have to win while we’re here.’’
It’s hard to believe they have gone longer than any Boston sports team since their last championship, especially because the years have always been so relentlessly solid for Brady and Belichick. No duo has produced this many consistently good records since Lennon and McCartney.
“It just feels weird because we haven’t stopped winning,’’ said Matt Chardavoyne. Just not, lately, in the playoffs.
‘I’m definitely nervous that this could be it. . . . There’s a sense of desperation that this could be our last shot in the Brady era.’Eric Baird, Patriots fan
But Brady did not have a great night. No one did. It was an ugly game to watch. Many times, the air came in and out of this small room, with the wood paneling and the Christmas lights that don’t all work. The bar, in the basement of the rock club Radio, is named for the owner’s father and probably could have been his home den. A lot of Pabst tall boys were drunk, and a lot of pacing was done.
Ultimately, though, the New England Patriots did win, though it was more that Baltimore lost.
A kicker named Billy Cundiff missed and probably made the rest of his life more difficult. It was a lousy way to do it, but high fives went up and disbelief settled itself in the room.
“Relief but not joy,’’ Chardavoyne said. “We’re not the underdog anymore. We haven’t been the underdog since Tom Brady. It’s more, ‘Thank God we didn’t lose.’’’
“I’ll take it,’’ Urquart said. So did a lot of people.
It was an event that took a few moments to shake loose. “We won, right?’’ his buddy, Tom O’Reilly, asked.
The nervous energy slowly abated in an exhale. It was a room full of hipsters and townies and yuppies and old rockers, and after an afternoon of segregation they crossed the aisles for high-fives.
As they did, from the back, came the announcement of an incredible fact: “We’re going to the Super Bowl!’’
In the corner, Eric Baird had been emotional all throughout the game. It was over and they had won, but it was hard to believe, and hard to not think about how many more of these big wins ARE left.
“I’m definitely nervous that this could be it,’’ he said. “He’s got another four years of high-level play at best. We need to capitalize. There’s a sense of desperation that this could be our last shot in the Brady era.’’
For this crew, who have spent their prime bar years watching championship trophies ride on duck boats, Brady was the guy who started it all. And what he began, they feared, he could take away. He was getting older. So were they.Billy Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.