The Patriots Sat Malcolm Butler Then Surrendered The Most Yards Ever Under Bill Belichick

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: NBC)

Malcolm Butler teared up in front of the estimated 111 million viewers during the pre-Super Bowl rendition of the national anthem.

But once the game started, we’d slowly learn Butler’s tears likely didn’t fall due to Pink’s singing, but because he’d been benched.

After playing in 97.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps during the regular season, the hero of Super Bowl XLIX didn’t even see the field aside from one special-teams snap.

Without the use of their Pro Bowl cornerback, the Eagles offense trampled New England’s defense in their 41-33 victory, hanging the most yards ever to befall a Bill Belichick-led Patriots team.

The team replaced Butler in the starting lineup with Eric Rowe, who was apparently as surprised by the benching as Patriots fans watching at home were.

An Eagles assistant coach revealed that the team’s plan was “to go after 25 [Rowe]. We could get Alshon [Jeffery] out there against him. We had Rowe on our team here in Philly, we knew that was a mismatch.”

Jeffery caught the first touchdown of the game against Rowe, and finished with three grabs for 73 yards. Basically everyone in their secondary got worked.

Richards, Rowe, and Bademosi started a combined 11 games in 2017.

“They gave up on me,” Butler said after the loss. “F**k. It is what it is. I don’t know what it was. I guess I wasn’t playing good or they didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t know. But I could have changed that game.”

So why bench their best corner against such a high-powered offense?

Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia both said Butler’s sitting was strictly due to football reasons.

Doesn’t make any sense, right? Unfortunately, this unconfirmed rumor from Pro Football Focus contributor Joey Cartolano—who, it should be mentioned, is from Boston and features Belichick as his Twitter avatar, but stresses that he isn’t a reporter—would make more sense than the Pats coach’s explanation.