New England rookie Malcolm Butler picks ideal time for interception
New England rookie Malcolm Butler, an undrafted defensive back from West Alabama, was a hero in the final minute of the Super Bowl.
Seattle Times staff reporter
GLENDALE, Ariz. – It’s safe to say Malcolm Butler has earned the nickname given to him by New England Patriots teammates.
“We call him Scrap because the first time we saw him, he was so scrappy and he found himself around the ball all the time,” defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said.
That’s exactly where Butler, a rookie defensive back, found himself in the closing minute of Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, with Seattle a yard from the go-ahead score.
The clock was running, bleeding beneath 40 seconds, then 30.
“We didn’t call a timeout and the clock was winding down and we realized, you know, this is basically it,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said.
The Seahawks opened in a shotgun set, but New England stayed big.
“We were in our goal-line package, knowing that they run the ball pretty well,” Wilfork said. “We were expecting them to run it … when they passed the ball, I was kind of surprised by it.”
Patriots safety Patrick Chung said, “You just have to read the set. … There’s certain formations where there’s going to be some pickups. (Butler) anticipated it.”
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took quick steps and fired to his right, where Ricardo Lockette was cutting beneath a Jermaine Kearse pick. But Butler beat Lockette to the pass, colliding with the receiver with his left shoulder pad while securing the ball.
The undrafted player out of the University of West Alabama had started just once in his rookie season, but he made the decisive play of the biggest game.
“I saw a couple tears in his eyes,” Chung said. “Just to have that feeling, he pretty much ended the game for us. I have no idea how he’s feeling, because I feel crazy.”
Edelman shakes it off
Though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday concussions are down 25 percent in the league, wide receiver Julian Edelman’s wobbly legs in the fourth quarter were a reminder the issue isn’t going away.
Edelman caught a 21-yard pass from Brady for a crucial third-down conversion early in the fourth quarter, holding onto the ball despite a jarring hit from Seattle safety Kam Chancellor.
“He got rocked,” fellow receiver Brandon LaFell said. “I thought he was about to go to sleep the way he was running.”
Edelman took an extra few seconds to gather himself after each play during the drive that cut Seattle’s lead to 24-21, even hauling in another pass for another key third-down conversion later in the drive.
“I don’t know, he never came over,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “I’m not sure exactly what that was. He just kept playing.”
Asked after the game if he was tested for a concussion, Edelman told reporters he wasn’t allowed to talk about injuries.
Brady adds to his records
The most notable record Brady set Sunday was for most touchdown passes in Super Bowl history – tossing Nos. 10 through 13 to overtake Joe Montana – but it was far from the only one.
Brady has the most passes (247), most completions (164) and most passing yards (1,605) in the game’s history. He is also tied for the most appearances with six and most valuable player awards with three.
New England also became the first team in Super Bowl history to trail by more than 10 points in the second half and win the game – teams trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter had been 0-29.
Belichick ties Noll
All four of New England’s championships have come under Bill Belichick, who joined former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll as the only coaches to win four Super Bowls.