Is this the end for Patriots dynasty?

Have we reached the expiration date on this fantastic run?

Pittsburgh, PA 12-16-18: Patriots defender Devin McCourty (left) gestures to teammate Duron Harmon (center) after the Steelers Antonio Brown (right) hauled in a second quarter 17 yard tocuhdown pass that (with the PAT) gave Pittsburgh a 14-7 lead. The score would turn out ot be the game winning points, as the Steelers downed the Patriots 17-10. New England defender Jason McCourty is on the ground in the middle. The New England Patriots visited the Pittsburgh Steelers in a regular season NFL football game at Heinz Field. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)



These Patriots are not who we thought they were, and they’re not going to be

This loss speaks to a diminished team holding the flag for the dynasty.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davisnepitt11spts.jpg Patriots can kiss No. 1 seed goodbye, but there is a silver lining

If the Patriots finish as the No. 3 seed in the AFC, they wouldn’t have to play the Chiefs or Chargers until the AFC Championship.

Ben Volin | On Football

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davisnepitt5spts.jpg How the Steelers (finally) wrangled Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady

The Steelers’ defensive backs were aggressive and the team threw a few new wrinkles at Tom Brady in a huge victory.

Boston MA 12/16/18 Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) controls the puck in front of Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) during first period NHL action at TD Garden. (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff


Bruins fade down the stretch against Sabres

Jeff Skinner and former Boston University star Jack Eichel each scored twice for the Sabres.

Nora Princiotti

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/1074301138.jpg The Patriots were in no rush to stop the run

Rookie Jaylen Samuels (19 carries, 142 yards) led the Steelers’ 158-yard rushing onslaught against New England’s suddenly-porous defense.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davisnepitt20spts.jpg Patriots breakdown: The best, worst (and everything in between)

The Patriots hadn’t dropped back-to-back December games since 2002.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 16: Jaylen Samuels #38 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the New England Patriots in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on December 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

JUSTIN BERL/Getty Images


Reality is, the Patriots are simply not a great team

This loss to the Steelers could be season-killing.

Chad Finn | 17 thoughts

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davisnepitt7spts.jpg Let’s face it, it doesn’t appear to be the Patriots’ year

Self-destructive mistakes usually happen to the other guys, especially in December, but not this season.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/1074301828.jpg Patriots paid penalty for letting opportunities go to waste

A season-high 14 flags and poor execution late by the offense proved costly.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens calls a play during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Detroit, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Gary Washburn | On basketball

How the Celtics sketched out a blueprint to future success during their eight-game winning streak

Despite a 113-104 loss at Detroit on Saturday, the Celtics discovered offensive cohesion and defensive tenacity.

Pittsburgh, PA 12-16-18: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is pictured on the turf after his last pass of the game fell incomplete in the end zone, giving Pittsburgh a 17-10 victory. The New England Patriots visited the Pittsburgh Steelers in a regular season NFL football game at Heinz Field. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)


Patriots lose to Steelers, and take a step back in playoff race

It’s the first time since 2002 that New England has lost back-to-back December games.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/16/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/kraftandedelman.jpeg Julian Edelman, Robert Kraft show support for Jewish community in Pittsburgh

Kraft visited the Tree of Life synagogue where 11 people were killed on Oct. 27. Edelman will show support with customized cleats.

Pittsburgh, PA 12-16-18: The Patriots Jonathan Jones made a great diving play to knock the ball back before it went into the end zone on a second quarter New England punt, downing the ball at the one yard line. The New England Patriots visited the Pittsburgh Steelers in a regular season NFL football game at Heinz Field. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

One Patriots highlight Sunday: An amazing play pinned the Steelers on the 1

Two diving saves by Patriots players kept Ryan Allen’s punt out of the end zone in the first half.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/11/20/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/1054465862.jpg Patrice Bergeron’s return may be an early Christmas gift for the Bruins

Bergeron will return to practice this week and may be back a few days before the holiday.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/15/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/Chin121418Celtics-Hawks_Spt21.jpg Celtics not feeling any urgency to make moves

Even before the eight-game winning streak, Danny Ainge said he was confident his team would turn things around.

Sports log

Freshmen Chris Herren Jr., Wynston Tabbs power Boston College basketball

Herren scored 22, Tabbs 20, and Ky Bowman 19 as the Eagles (8-2) got their sixth win in seven games.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Harry How/Getty Images


Nick Foles returns, helps Eagles keep playoff hopes alive

The Super Bowl hero filled in for the injured Cason Wentz and led Philadelphia to an upset of the Rams.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/17/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/1074137384.jpg Rookie Lions coach Matt Patricia won’t be making a playoff run

The former Patriot assistant will miss the postseason for just the second time in the last 15 seasons.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/16/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/8289befc4fdc423798f5fd7d1ae7e17b-8289befc4fdc423798f5fd7d1ae7e17b-0.jpg Bears beat Packers to clinch NFC North title

Mitch Trubisky threw two TD passes to help Chicago advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/16/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/777c21615337404fac2d7d37e45754e2-777c21615337404fac2d7d37e45754e2-0.jpg Marlon Mack helps surging Colts run over Cowboys

Mack rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two scores as Indy won for the seventh time in eight games.

St. Mary’s 73, St. John’s Prep 52

St. Mary’s too much to handle for St. John’s Prep

Jalen Echevarria and Ademide Badmus led the way for the Spartans, who could be the best team in Division 3 basketball this season.

Kyler Murray received a $4.6 million signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics after he was drafted ninth overall.

Jeff Chiu/AP/File


Why Heisman winner Kyler Murray should ditch baseball and go for the NFL

Average NFL quarterbacks are getting paid $15 million-$20 million per year.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/16/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/1055746100.jpg Section of wrap depicting 2018 World Series flag stolen from Fenway Park

A piece of a wrap around a fence near the park commemorating the recent Red Sox title was missing Sunday morning, but it’s been recovered.

Bruins notebook

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/15/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/f94b389e25b6468da1ae95fc61030ed6-f94b389e25b6468da1ae95fc61030ed6-0.jpg Brandon Carlo’s long goal drought ended in Pittsburgh

The Bruins defenseman scored his first of the season in a 5-3 loss and he is taking more chances offensively.

Juju the French bulldog in Danny’s lap, then from bottom left: Moni the pit bull, Mojo the Malamute husky, Juicy the husky

Mara Shelton

Growing furry family is a game-changer for this Patriot

“Our dogs have always been popular,” Danny Shelton said. Now, they’re Internet-popular, as is the dog owned by Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/08/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/4df729ed4aa24210b4ac2015a116a53a-58f98db1a1474052a23bf75330ee2469-0.jpg Too many teams are tanking and that’s leading to dwindling competition

The American League appears to be a three-team race among the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros.

Boston04/16/18 The Boston Marathon finish line. Women winner Desiree Linden celebrates after she crosses the finish line. Photo by John Tlumacki/Globe Staff(sports)


Shira Springer | Fair Play

2018 was a breakthrough year of change in women’s sports

It was a year of firsts and drought-ending victories and big numbers and sports bra-related controversies.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/09/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/Chin120818Leafs-Bruins_Spt13.jpg Concussions are, and will remain, a major issue

Although the NHL has made great strides in player safety, second-year coach Bruce Cassidy has seen at least seven Bruins exit with concussions during his tenure.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/11/14/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davis_st8g_spts.jpg Red Sox to pay $11.9 million in luxury tax, money well spent

The World Series champions and the Washington Nationals were the only teams to exceed the tax threshold of $197 million.

Foxborough MA 11/30/18 North Andover team after they defeated King Philip 6-0 capturing the MIAA Division 1 State Championship at Gillette Stadium. (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: 01schbowl reporter: Nathaniel Weitzer

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Here are the Globe’s 2018 fall All-Scholastics

We highlighted the athletes and coaches who stood out above the rest this fall.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2018/12/15/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/1f15a273981949d09ae74d6596e67c16-1f15a273981949d09ae74d6596e67c16-0.jpg New coach Jim Boylen is pushing the Bulls, but they are shoving back

Ordering a practice after back-to-back games almost led to a revolt by the players.

12/14/2018 Wayland Ma-Wayland High School swimming team. coach Mike Foley (cq) with taem. Jonathan Wiggs /Globe Staff Reporter:Topic:

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff


Team of the Week: Wayland boys’ swimming team going for three straight state titles

Wayland went 18-0 least season en route to its second straight Division 2 state title.

Kevin Paul Dupont

/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2014/03/05/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/dupont-13978.tif More from Dupont

Read his recent “On Second Thought” columns and more features from the longtime Globe writer.