What a decade this was in New England sports! As we move into the 2020s, join NESN.com in counting down the best moments in New England sports from 2010-2019. (And check out the rest of our “Best of the Decade” content here.)
“Here we go again.”
This likely was going through the minds of all Patriots fans after Jermaine Kearse corraled a 33-yard circus catch with just over one minute to play in Super Bowl XLIX. Tom Brady and Julian Edelman minutes prior had given New England a 28-24 lead over the Seattle, and now the Seahawks seemingly were well on their way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy thanks to a ridiculous grab that mirrored David Tyree’s infamous helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII.
The Seahawks needed just 5 yards.
Marshawn Lynch gained 4 of those on Seattle’s first play following Kearse’s catch, and a game-winning jaunt from Beast Mode on the next play seemed like a foregone conclusion. But Seattle head coach Pete Carroll instead opted to take to the air on second down, and the unlikeliest of sources made him pay.
An undrafted free agent by the name of Malcolm Butler read Russell Wilson like a book. As we since have learned, Butler was torched on a goal-line slant route in a pre-Super Bowl practice, setting the stage for one of the greatest plays in football history. Butler undercut Ricardo Lockette’s route and put himself in perfect position to make a play. The young cornerback finished the job, intercepting Wilson’s pass at the goal line and securing the fourth Super Bowl victory in Patriots franchise history.
Butler’s game-winning pick sent New England’s sideline into a frenzy. Arguably no one was more elated than Tom Brady, who looked like a youngster in Pop Warner as he jumped up and down before embracing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and taking to the field to put the finishing touches on what was one of the best Super Bowls ever played.
“Do your job” rings inside the walls of Gillette Stadium, and the simple-yet-effective tactic has produced an unprecedented level of success in Foxboro. Butler did his job on the practice squad for the majority of that 2014 season, and when his number was called on the biggest stage, he did so to the highest degree.