The front-page headline in the Boston Herald before Sunday's game in Foxborough, Mass., between the Patriots and Texans read:

"TOM'S TIME: After bitter Super Bowl defeats, it may be now or never again for Brady."

There is a sense in Boston that the Patriots' window during the Bill Belichick-Brady era might finally be closing after five Super Bowls — and perhaps a sixth next month after their 41-28 victory over the Texans earned them another berth in the AFC Championship Game — and three — maybe four — Super Bowl titles.

I have a sense, shared by plenty of others if you pay attention to opinions expressed on the Internet and on sports talk radio in the aftermath of a second Boston massacre within five weeks, that the Texans' window also might be closing — after two home playoff victories in two seasons succeeded by losses in the AFC divisional round.

In retrospect, it could be that the Texans never actually had a window.

"We're right there as a team," coach Gary Kubiak said after the loss.

Right where?

Indeed, in the last two seasons, the Texans were within one victory of having a chance for another victory that would have put them in the Super Bowl. But if you put the last half of this season under a microscope, they aren't any closer to being there than a lot of other teams.

Although they won 13 games and finished with the third-best record in the AFC, they lost four of their last six. Including two overtime victories, they won only three of their last nine games in regulation time.

The defense, the team's strength, allowed 20 points or more in two of the first nine games and 23 points or more in six of the last nine. The offense scored two touchdowns in the first game against the Patriots and three in the second but only three in the four games in between.