An uncomfortable truth many New England Patriots fans are going to have to deal with during what will inevitably be a long offseason is that Tom Brady and the Patriots offense played well enough to win Super Bowl LII.
Brady threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions, despite losing speedy receiver Brandin Cooks early in the game.
Star tight end Rob Gronkowksi grabbed nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. It was the best Super Bowl game of his career.
The Patriots offense scored the most points of a losing team in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots also outgained the Philadelphia Eagles in total yards, 613 to 538.
As the numbers clearly point out, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl primarily because of their defense.
It was actually a historically bad game for a Bill Belichick defense, giving up the most yards of the entire Belichick era.
Inexplicably, as bad as the Patriots were playing on defense, Belichick opted to keep one of his key defensive starters glued to the bench.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler, hero of Super Bowl XLIX and someone who played in 98 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps this season, did not play a single defensive snap.
Butler, who was seen crying during the national anthem, was rightfully dejected after the game.
“They gave up on me,” Butler said after the 41-33 loss, per ESPN‘s Mike Reiss.. “F—. It is what it is.”
“It was a coach’s decision. … I don’t know what it was,” Butler added. “I guess I wasn’t playing good. They didn’t feel comfortable.”
But then Butler dropped a bit of truth that could lead to an endless gauntlet of “What If’s” for Patriots fans.
“I could have changed that game, though,” he said.
Indeed, he could have.
Belichick claimed Butler’s benching was not a disciplinary action and gave the team the best chance to win.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) February 5, 2018
It’s probably never a good idea to question one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, but that doesn’t apply in this case.
Eric Rowe, who started and played in place of Butler, is worse than Butler by any metric. Not only that, but Rowe was a former failed Eagles prospect that Philadelphia undoubtedly had intimate game tape and knowledge of. Aside from the fact that Rowe is about two inches and 15 pounds bigger than Butler, there isn’t a single thing that Rowe can do better than Butler.
Butler, for his part, took the high road despite likely suiting up for the last time as a Patriot. Butler will become an unrestricted free agent who is seeking more money than the Patriots are typically willing to play.
“I was just doing my job supporting my teammates,” Butler said. “I had nothing but great things to say about the organization. Great organization. They gave me the opportunity.”
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