Bill Belichick made a shocking decision Sunday to bench cornerback Malcolm Butler for the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl LII matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium. Butler, a 2015 Pro Bowl pick and a hero for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, played zero snaps on defense.
Instead, Belichick started cornerback Eric Rowe, who said after the game he had “no idea” why Butler didn’t start or play in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Eagles.
“It wasn’t official until kickoff,” Rowe told reporters, revealing he didn’t know he was going to start in place of Butler until right before the game.
The Patriots’ defense struggled mightily against the Eagles, surrendering the most points (41) and total yards (538) of any playoff game under Belichick. New England simply didn’t have an answer for Philadelphia’s offense, with Rowe at times being targeted.
“Very frustrating,” Rowe said. “Obviously, on the biggest stage. It is not like a regular season game where you are like, ‘OK, we will bounce back.’ This was it.”
This was it. And it wasn’t pretty for the Patriots.
NESN.com’s Doug Kyed looked more closely at the timeline of Butler’s benching, mostly through the words of Rowe, who seemed as confused as anyone that his teammate didn’t start or play.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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