PHOENIX — Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl XLIX-clinching interception wasn’t overly surprising for those who watched the rookie cornerback in training camp.
Butler gave quarterbacks Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo fits all summer with impressive pass breakups and interceptions. Apparently that success carried on to the regular season, as well.
“He’s been doing it to me in practice all season, so it was actually nice to see him pick somebody else off,” Brady said Monday morning. “I’m so happy for him.”
Butler had an up-and-down rookie season as a fifth cornerback, but all those reps in OTAs, minicamp and training camp finally paid off in the Super Bowl, when he beat Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette on a red-zone slant route, picking off quarterback Russell Wilson with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“Well, Malcolm is, you know, he’s — I’m sure Coach can speak to Malcolm’s history and his college experience and so forth. But, you know, he made a mark in the rookie (minicamp), in OTAs,” Brady said Monday morning. “Coach — we don’t put numbers on our jerseys. For what reason, I don’t know. I’m not sure. I wish I knew. But this one player just kept making plays and I kept going, ‘Who is that? Who’s that guy running down balls?’ He had great quickness, great speed, great jumping ability, played the ball so well, intercepting passes all season long practicing on the scout team, and got some opportunities as the season went along to play on defense.
“It all leads to that particular moment. You put a lot of hard work in over the course of the season and Malcolm did that. To recognize a formation, a play, put it all together in your mind as a young player, it was the perfect play at the perfect time. Obviously, none of us will ever forget that play. I’m just proud of him, proud of our team, and it’s a great victory.”
Butler only played in the game because No. 3 and 4 cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan had been beat by Seahawks reserve receiver Chris Matthews, who had four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Browner moved from Jermaine Kearse to Matthews, and Butler look over on Kearse.
The rookie cornerback’s big play only came to be after Kearse miraculously caught a ball on his back after Butler had deflected Wilson’s pass in the air. Butler said after the game that he didn’t want to feel like he had lost the Super Bowl for his teammates.
Thumbnail photo via David J. Phillip/Associated Press
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