MINNEAPOLIS — So many times this season, New England’s defense made plays when needed to give Tom Brady and the Patriots offense a chance to win.

But it couldn’t figure out the Philadelphia Eagles in a 41-33 loss Super Bowl loss on Sunday.

The 41 points were the most allowed by the Patriots in any Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick era. New England also surrendered 613 yards, including 373 through the air by Nick Foles. LeGarrette Blount, a former Patriots running back, rushed 14 times for 90 yards and touchdown.

The Patriots offense did its part. It didn’t punt and had no turnovers until the final three minutes. After playing from behind most of the night, Brady gave New England its first lead of the game, 33-32, on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 9:22 to play.

But on the ensuing drive, New England safety Devin McCourty couldn’t keep Zach Ertz from stretching the ball across the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown reception that wound up being the winner.

The Patriots didn’t use their usual starting lineup against the Eagles, with cornerback Malcolm Butler benched in favor of Eric Rowe.


Butler missed a day of practice during the week because of an illness. He warmed up and was in uniform, but only played on special teams. It was the first game in which Butler did not play a first-quarter snap since the Patriots’ Super Bowl win over Seattle to cap the 2014 season.

Asked about the lineup change during a television interview at halftime, Coach Bill Belichick said it was a coaching decision.

“I made the decisions that give us the best chance to win,” he said.

Without Butler, New England’s defense – and particular the secondary – had trouble keeping Foles and Philadelphia’s offense in check.

The Eagles punted only once and converted a pair of fourth downs.

Rowe struggled early, giving up three early catches for 66 yards, including Foles’ first touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.


But New England’s secondary got the first turnover of the night when Jeffrey struggled to control a deep pass from Foles. Stephon Gilmore got a hand on it and Jeffrey juggled it before it wound up in the hands of safety Duron Harmon.

Later in the second quarter, Philadelphia used some trickery when it faced fourth-and-goal at the 1 with less than a minute to play.

After a timeout, the Eagles gave the ball to Trey Burton on a reverse, and the tight end flipped a pass to a wide-open Foles for a touchdown that gave Philadelphia a 22-12 halftime lead.

New England pulled to within 22-19 with a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.

The Patriots defense would break down again, though, this time letting Corey Clement get behind Marquis Flowers and McCourty for an over the shoulder 22-yard catch in the back of the end zone.

Safety Patrick Chung was shaken up on that play and missed a few series. He returned in the fourth quarter but had to leave again late in the game because of a head injury.

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