MINNEAPOLIS – (Wire Service Report) – Three years after Malcolm Butler sealed a Super Bowl win for the New England Patriots with a last-minute interception, the cornerback did not play on defense Sunday in Super Bowl LII due to a “coach’s decision.”
“They gave up on me. (expletive). It is what it is,” Butler reportedly told ESPN Boston after New England’s 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis.
The Eagles shredded the Patriots for 538 total yards, 374 of it through the air, prompting Butler to add, “I could have changed that game.”
According to ESPN, Butler played 97.8 percent of the Patriots’ regular-season snaps on defense. Butler, who was not at Monday’s media night and was limited Wednesday while reportedly dealing with flu-like symptoms, did see snaps Sunday on special teams.
New England coach Bill Belichick told NBC at halftime only that he “made the decision that gives us the best chance to win.”
The Patriots opened the game with Eric Rowe in primary coverage on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who caught the game’s first touchdown. New England made the switch to have Stephon Gilmore shadow Jeffery, his college teammate at South Carolina. Jeffery wound up with three catches for 73 yards.
In Super Bowl XLIX, Butler intercepted a Russell Wilson pass at the goal line with 26 seconds left to clinch New England’s 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. At the time, Butler was a little-known undrafted rookie. He subsequently became a mainstay for the Patriots and was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season.
Butler was the subject of trade rumors last offseason, and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.