Why did Butler get benched for Super Bowl 52, and did it cost the Patriots their sixth Lombardi Trophy?

Bill Belichick gave almost no answers. Malcolm Butler had no answer, either, but lots of emotion, wild guesses and dejection. To be fair, the questions were complicated.

There’s a question in there, though, that’s easier to answer: Is this one of the worst and costliest coaching blunders ever in the Super Bowl? That answer is yes. Is it the all-time worst and costliest? It’s hard to find another, even with 52 years of competition.

There isn’t a large library of even questionable coaching moves in recent Super Bowl history, much less outright bizarre or indefensible ones. The aforementioned slant by the Seahawks. Last year’s decision by the Falcons to keep throwing with a chance to work the clock and put the win over the Patriots away. Andy Reid’s clock management the last time the Eagles and Patriots played in 2005. Bill Callahan running a Raiders offense against the Buccaneers that Jon Gruden knew like the back of his hand.

For now, they pale in comparison to Belichick leaving a vital defensive player on the bench while the other team ran up 538 yards and 41 points in a track meet of a game.

The Eagles beat the Patriots on Sunday, but by benching Butler, Belichick gave them a ton of help.

“You’re gonna see me playing football next year. I don’t envision not playing,” Brady said. “You’re at the end of the race but you’ve got your biggest mountain to climb right at the end. Hopefully all the lessons we’ve learned have allowed us to be at our very best for this moment and that’s what it’s going to take and that’s what we’re prepared for and that’s what I go out and expect our team to do.”

Brady became the oldest player to be named NFL MVP this season, claiming his third league MVP honor Saturday. He led the NFL with 4,577 yards, becoming the oldest quarterback to lead the league in passing yards, with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Brady is under contract through the 2019 season and expects to fulfill that contract. He and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have already won five Super Bowls together, heading into Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Making his eighth Super Bowl appearance, Brady told his wife he’d like to win two more Super Bowls before he retires and has said he’d like to play until he’s 45. It remains to be seen, but we do know we’ll see Brady in a Patriots uniform for a 19th NFL season. bills_043

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