By Henry McKenna
The numbers don’t back Bill Belichick’s decision.
After Belichick benched starting cornerback Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII, the New England Patriots coach deployed cornerbacks Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi, along with safety Jordan Richards, as replacements.
Those three players were not exactly rock solid in replacement of Butler, particularly on third downs. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles went after them. He was 6 of 7 for 137 yards when throwing against at Rowe, Bademosi and Richards on third down on Sunday.
Foles finished the game with 373 yards, three touchdown passes and an interception. He had a touchdown reception on a trick play to boot. The Eagles were 10 of 16 on third down during the Super Bowl, and were 2 of 2 on fourth-down conversions. The Patriots defense simply couldn’t get the Eagles off the field.
Stephon Gilmore was the only cornerback to shine during the game. He was excellent no matter who he was assigned to cover. He started the game shifting from one receiver to the next, but the Patriots made a halftime adjustment to keep Gilmore on Alshon Jeffrey for the whole second half. That’s when Jeffrey disappeared — he didn’t have a single second-half...