Column: How it happened

New England Patriots' Johnson Bademosi (29) and Nate Solder walk off the field after the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. The Eagles won 41-33. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

New England played in their eighth Super Bowl since the turn of the century on Sunday night. If you don’t worship at the altar of Belichick-Brady, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Watching your team in the big game never gets old.

And watching them lose it never gets easier.

This is the third Super Bowl loss I’ve seen the Patriots suffer. I was in fifth grade when David Tyree magically pinned a football to his helmet and handed the Patriots their 18-1 record. I cried my eyes out.

But we’ll stick to what happened on Sunday. Tom Brady played very well; our defense, on the other hand, did not. Brady threw for 505 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Patriots racked up 613 yards of offense, the most any team has ever scored in a loss in NFL history—regular season or postseason.

Obviously the storyline coming out of the game was the absence of Malcolm Butler. New England’s star cornerback and hero of Super Bowl 49 played a grand total of zero defensive snaps Sunday. Belichick said after the game that the benching was not punitive.

“I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness, and I’m sure that he felt like he could’ve helped,” Belichick said. “In the end, we have to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team.”

Butler didn’t see it that way, reportedly saying, “They gave up on me. F--- it. It is what it is.”

Would Butler have affected the game? I believe so. The Patriots defense was dreadful and having Butler in there instead of Rowe or Bademosi would surely have been a step up. While I don’t agree with Belichick’s decision, the man has certainly earned the right to make these personnel decisions given his track record.

A Philadelphia Eagles fan chants while waiting for the team to arrive at Philadelphia International Airport a day after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Kudos to Philadelphia. Nick Foles played a phenomenal game and earned a Super Bowl MVP title. Doug Pederson called one hell of a game and took every necessary risk it takes to beat New England in a Super Bowl. I figured before the game that it would all come down to a handful of plays that would decide the outcome. Those fourth-down play calls by the Eagles along with the strip sack in the fourth quarter sealed the deal.

I’ll remember the football falling just past Brady’s outstretched hands every time I close my eyes for the rest of my life.

Also, I lost almost every prop bet I made. So not a good day for Connor. See you at Super Bowl LIII.


Connor Donahue is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.