Super Bowl LII Takeaways: What Went Wrong In Patriots’ Loss To Eagles

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Patriots safety Jordan Richards

Photo via John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s impossible to discuss the New England Patriots’ 41-33 Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles without first mentioning cornerback Malcolm Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap.

Butler was on the field for one punt return. Outside of that one play, he stayed on the sideline, near the field, with his chinstrap buckled.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick decided he didn’t need Butler while giving up 41 points and 538 total yards, 374 of those yards through the air.

So many things could have gone differently in this game if Butler was on the field instead of Eric Rowe, Jordan Richards or Johnson Bademosi.

Let’s get into some of the minutiae of the Patriots’ loss.

PASSING GAME
— Tom Brady overall was 28-of-48 passing for 505 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was strip-sacked and lost the fumble.

— Of Brady’s 20 incompletions, one was dropped, one was thrown away, two were spiked and two came when he was hit while throwing. Brady overall had a very productive game, but he was inaccurate on 14 of his 20 incompletions.

— Brady was 6-of-11 passing for 185 yards with one touchdown on throws of 20 yards or more.

— Wide receiver Chris Hogan had the lone drop.

— Hogan caught 2 of 4 deep targets for 69 yards and a touchdown.

— Wide receiver Danny Amendola caught 1 of 2 deep targets for 50 yards.

— Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught 1 of 3 deep passes for 24 yards.

— Wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught his only deep target for 23 yards.

— Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett caught his only deep targets for 19 yards.

RUSHING ATTACK
— James White, who had seven carries for 45 yards with a touchdown, had perhaps his best game of the season running the ball. He averaged 4.71 yards after contact and forced four missed tackles.

— Rex Burkhead averaged 3.33 yards after contact and forced two missed tackles.

— Dion Lewis averaged 2.67 yards after contact and forced one missed tackle. He didn’t make as big of an impact as expected.

PASS PROTECTION
G Joe Thuney: six hurries
G Shaq Mason: sack, QB hit, two hurries
OT Cameron Fleming: QB hit, three hurries
OT Nate Solder: three hurries
TE Rob Gronkowski: QB hit, hurry
C David Andrews: QB hit, hurry
TE Dwayne Allen: hurry

— None of the Patriots’ running backs allowed any pressures.

— Mason allowed the Eagles’ strip sack of Brady. He’s been the Patriots’ best offensive lineman all season.

— Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels praised his offensive line overall after the game.

PASS RUSH
LB James Harrison: two QB hits, six hurries
DE Trey Flowers: two QB hits, three hurries
LB Kyle Van Noy: QB hit, hurry
DT Malcolm Brown: hurry

— Harrison and Flowers did a nice job getting after Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, but the Patriots’ pass rushers couldn’t finish with a single sack.

— Eric Lee, Deatrich Wise, Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Lawrence Guy, Ricky Jean Francois and Adam Butler provided no pressure.

PASS COVERAGE
SS Jordan Richards: 3-3, 81 yards
CB Eric Rowe: 6-9, 79 yards, TD, two PBUs
SS Patrick Chung: 5-7, 70 yards
LB Kyle Van Noy: 4-4, 55 yards
LB Marquis Flowers: 1-1, 22 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 4-7, 20 yards, TD, two PBUs
CB Stephon Gilmore: 3-6, 19 yards, two PBUs
CB Johnson Bademosi: 1-1, 14 yards
FS Duron Harmon: 1-2, 10 yards, INT
DE Eric Lee: 1-1, 1 yard, TD

— Richards whiffed on a 55-yard reception by Corey Clement on a wheel route. Richards was playing Chung’s usual hybrid-linebacker spot, which pushed Chung into the slot.

— Rowe allowed the first-quarter touchdown reception to Alshon Jeffery. Lee let up the touchdown pass by tight end Trey Burton to Foles. McCourty allowed the go-ahead touchdown to tight end Zach Ertz.

— McCourty had a rough game overall, also missing two tackles.

— Gilmore was the Patriots’ best defensive player. Foles had a 17.4 passer rating while targeting Gilmore, since Harmon picked off a pass that was directed to the Patriots’ top cornerback.

— It’s unbelievable Belichick decided he didn’t need Butler after looking at the stats above.

RUN DEFENSE
DT Lawrence Guy: four stops
DT Malcom Brown: four stops
FS Devin McCourty: three stops
DT Adam Butler: one stop
LB James Harrison: one stop
DE Trey Flowers: one stop
LB Elandon Robert: one stop
LB Kyle Van Noy: one stop

— The Patriots’ run defense was just as bad as the pass defense. The Eagles carried the ball 27 times for 164 yards. There were massive lanes for running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi to run through.

MISSED TACKLES
FS Devin McCourty: two missed tackles
FS Duron Harmon: two missed tackles
LB James Harrison: two missed tackles
SS Jordan Richards: one missed tackle
DT Malcom Brown: one missed tackle
LB Elandon Roberts: one missed tackle
LB Kyle Van Noy: one missed tackle
CB Johnson Bademosi: one missed tackle

— Yeah, that’s a lot of missed tackles. It’s worth noting Butler usually is a solid tackler. He had six missed tackles in the 18 games he played in this season.

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