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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

Suddenly superfluous

Couldn't get out of bed for the longest time yesterday. There seemed to be no reason to get up. No reason to jog the daily mile. No reason to eat, check e-mail, read the Globe, or listen to sports talk radio. No reason to watch Tony and Mike on "PTI." For the first time in years, I didn't even feel like blogging.

No urge to blog? Now there's a man with no will live.

Went to the bookshelf for a little light reading. Found "The Trial" by Franz Kafka. Hadn't cracked it open since the baseball strike of 1994, but the old passages brought new comfort to my tortured soul. I needed something that would encapsulate my mood -- a passage that might speak to the mind-set of our entire region in the wake of Sunday's stunning Patriots loss to the Colts. And there it was, in excerpts from the author's diaries.

"I have become cold again, and insensible; nothing is left but a senile love for unbroken calm . . . Apathetic, witless, fearful. I have nothing to say to anyone -- never."

I think the Czech Laughing Boy speaks for us all at this hour.

The Patriots lost one of the most thrilling football games in NFL playoff history Sunday. So there will be no rematch of Super Bowl XX Feb. 4 in Miami. There will be no opportunity to exorcise the Ghost of Tony Eason. There will be no "where are they now?" stories on Raymond Berry and John Hannah. No Boston vs. Chicago, fried clams vs. deep dish pizza, Honey Fitz vs. Richard Daley columns. No Our Bob Ryan vs. Their Dan Ryan Expressway. No opportunities for local psychologists to get into the head of Bears QB Rex Grossman. No cheap-shot throwaway lines about Super Bowl coaches Lovie Smith and Hatie Belichick.

No. We have tumbled into the abyss. The proverbial church bells all are broken. Here in the toy department, we are free-falling and there is nothing but darkness until we run that cornball photograph of the Red Sox equipment truck on Van Ness Street outside Fenway. (Does anyone really plan to watch the Celtics at home against Atlanta tonight or the NHL All-Star Game in that time-honored Hockey Hub of Dallas, Texas?)

Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers Feb. 16. We had planned to bridge this gap with two more weeks of nonstop Patriot talk. We were going to watch Tom Brady and Friends attempt to become only the second team in NFL history to win four Super Bowls in six years. And the anticipation was going to fill every waking hour.

This was going to be the best Super Bowl of all the Patriot Super Bowls. As a Big Game site, Miami offers more flight options and golf courses and better weather than New Orleans, Houston, or Jacksonville. It has beaches. Beautiful people and blended beverages with tiny umbrellas. Swimming pools and movie stars. Who wouldn't want to make this junket?

Meanwhile, the Patriots' story line was irresistible. They were a team that was dismissed when they lost Super Bowl veterans Vinatieri, McGinest, Branch, and Givens. Many experts picked them to finish behind the Dolphins in the AFC East.

The 2006 Patriots were a team that played uneven football out of the gate and took a long time to find offensive rhythm. They presented Brady with a new challenge. But they got better as the winter lengthened, and once again, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

They really did seem to be smarter than everyone else. Belichick dazzled the Jets with a fire-drill offense in the first playoff game. In the second tournament week, New England took advantage of the immaturity and misplaced exuberance of the superior Chargers and won a game it had no business winning. Belichick vs. Schottenheimer was Roger Federer vs. your club pro.

After taking out the top-seeded Bolts, the Patriots attempted to win a second straight road game against a team that was unbeaten at home. This would have been an unprecedented playoff sweep of teams that combined were 17-0 at home. Keeping Peyton Manning off the field and reminding us that the Colts were dreadful against the run all year, the Patriots bolted to a 21-3 lead. More real-men-of-genius stuff from His Hoodieness.

And all I could think was, Man, Jonathan Kraft is going to look good hoisting that Lombardi Trophy at the front of the Duckboat parade.

And then it was over about the same time we first noticed those Calvin Schiraldi eyes inside the facemask of Reche Caldwell. The Patriots got flagged for stupid penalties. New England's fabled front seven looked old, soft, and tired. Belichick gave Heath Evans the football on a third-and-10 from the Colts' 29. Tom Brady panicked and tried to force a ball over the middle. Suddenly, it was raining confetti in the RCA Dome.

And so the Super Bowl pregame hype goes on without us. Apathetic and witless, we pull the covers over our head and stay in bed. With nothing to say to anyone.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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