Raise your hand if you thought Malcolm Butler was going to be the difference-maker in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Now raise your hand if you honestly knew who the heck Malcolm Butler was at the start of the day.
Butler is probably going to Disneyland after coming up with one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history.
His pick of the normally error-free Russell Wilson preserved the New England Patriots’ 28-24 lead over the Seattle Seahawks and gave them their fourth Super Bowl title in 14 years.
The play also will go down as one of professional sports’ most bonehead moments of all time.
The Seahawks possess Marshawn Lynch, the Ferrari of NFL running backs in short-yardage situations. Just the pure anger he runs with should have been enough to make one measly yard, even if there were 11 in the box. Can you imagine the postgame interview had he scored the winning touchdown?
But apparently they felt like he was nothing more than a Pinto. Here it was, a situation tailor-made for Lynch, and the Seahawks tried to get all cute and throw a pass. I can only imagine Lynch’s hostility toward the coaching staff right now. Given his obvious sensitivity, he certainly has to feel disrespected and his knee-jerk reaction will be to ask out of Seattle.
Butler stepped in and picked off the short throw. While he’ll probably never do one more thing to distinguish himself in his NFL career, he’ll go down as the man who saved the day for the Patriots.
It was a shocking end to one of the better Super Bowls I have watched and I’ve seen all 49, starting with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Kansas City Chiefs.
Speaking of the Chiefs, how about this — they defeated both Super Bowl teams during the regular season.
I digress. What perhaps was as shocking to me about the last play was that Seattle gave up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks’ defense had been impenetrable the last eight games and their secondary — the self-proclaimed “Legion of Boom” — may rank among the best in NFL history. It was like handing the baseball to Mariano Rivera with a four-run lead in the ninth inning — it figured to be an automatic.
But remember, we’re talking Tom Brady here. He’s now won four Super Bowls to take his place with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, both of whom also won four. The talking heads are moving him to the top because he’s also guided the Patriots to two other Super Bowls.
Brady certainly stated his No. 1 case Sunday. He flummoxed the Seahawks, getting the ball out of his hand so quickly they couldn’t get a clean shot on him. He was 37 of 50 for 328 yards and four touchdowns — normally a month’s worth of numbers against the Seahawks. He never panicked even when things looked bleak.
Brady is nearing the end of his career, but he probably has at least two or three good years left. His offensive line does a great job of keeping him upright and he has partnered with Bill Belichick to form perhaps the best 1-2 player-coach team in NFL history. It wouldn’t surprise me if they win one more together before they’re through.