New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, the hero of Super Bowl XLIX, did not start Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles and would not play a single snap in the 41-33 loss.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick apparently benched Butler, telling NBC Sports it was a "football decision" at halftime and that he “made the decisions that give us the best chance to win.” After the game, Belichick was asked if Butler's benching was for disciplinary reasons and he said no.
Asked about what happened after the game, Butler said, "I ain't got nothing to say" before leaving the locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium. Butler played snaps on special teams in the game.
Butler had battled the flu this week but was cleared and not listed on the injury report. Eric Rowe said after the game that Butler practiced all week as a starter. He had started 15-of-16 games in the regular season and both playoff games prior to Sunday.
Butler was seen crying during the pregame performance of "America The Beautiful," but it's not clear if it was related to the benching or not. He's a free agent in March.
Perhaps it was a matchup thing, but Eric Rowe struggled early in taking his place. The Patriots allowed 538 yards to the Eagles, with 374 coming through the air. Duron Harmon had an interception off a tipped ball, but otherwise the Patriots struggled to cover most of the game.
Butler had barely seen the field in Super Bowl XLIX before making the game-saving interception in the waning moments. But he was never called on to help in Sunday's loss.