Patriots' defensive coaches off the mark in Super Bowl LII loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Without the benefit of film review, some "ups" and "downs" from the New England Patriots' 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII:


Tom Brady: He finished 28-of-48 for 505 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. But he acknowledged, "We never really got control of the game, never played on our terms." While Brady's accuracy was not as pinpoint as it has been in other games, he delivered some perfect strikes, with one long throw to Chris Hogan perhaps his best.

Rob Gronkowski: The All-Pro tight end had just one catch at halftime but then exploded after that to finish with nine receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns. "He did a great job, played a great game, made some big plays when we needed it," Brady said. "When Brandin [Cooks] went out, everyone needed to step up."

Danny Amendola/Chris Hogan: The receivers were productive as they were relied upon more after Cooks was sidelined, with Amendola finishing with eight receptions for 152 yards and Hogan totaling six catches for 128 yards and one touchdown.


Defensive coaches: The decision to bench Malcolm Butler in favor of Eric Rowe, if it truly wasn't disciplinary, was puzzling. That would start at the top with Bill Belichick. Meanwhile, the plan called for a lot of "big nickel," the three-safety package that seemed to be their way of trying to be sturdy enough against the run while helping the secondary with some additional speed on the back end, but the Eagles had little problem with it and there was no major adjustment to try something different (e.g., a more traditional nickel package). In the second half, Johnson Bademosi replaced Jordan Richards at times, which was one tweak, but it didn't accomplish the goal of slowing the Eagles down.

Jordan Richards/Johnson Bademosi: Richards was in coverage on a wheel route on a third-and-3 play late in the second quarter that running back Corey Clement caught for a 55-yard gain, one of the key plays in the game. Then in the second half, Bademosi, who seemed to be playing in place of Richards, had a chance to make a third-down tackle short of the sticks but didn't.

Joe Cardona/Ryan Allen/Stephen Gostkowski: The Patriots' snap-hold-kick operation had its struggles, with snapper Joe Cardona firing one off the mark that led to a missed field goal (Allen couldn't handle it without disrupting the timing) and Gostkowski later missing an extra point.