“No, that wasn’t the plan,” Rowe said, via postgame quotes distributed by the league.
While Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia insisted that Butler was benched strictly for football reasons, something smells fishy.
Rowe played in only eight games this season and started only three. Butler started 15 of 16 regular-season games. He played every snap of the first two playoff games, while Rowe played 98 of the 141 snaps.
Once the game started and Butler stood on the sideline with his helmet on the entire game, it became clear why Butler wept during the national anthem.
“It wasn’t official until kickoff,” Rowe said when asked when he found out he would start. “. . . I feel for [Butler].”
Rowe did not play well Sunday night. He made four tackles and defensed two passes and repeatedly was beaten as the Eagles rolled to 538 yards, including 374 passing yards.
“Very frustrating,” Rowe said. “Obviously on the biggest stage. It is not like a regular-season game where you are like, ‘OK, we will bounce back.’ This was it.”