I planned on taking the day off from blogging. I've been using Wednesday afternoons as a chance to catch up with movies. I've been trying to see all the big Oscar nominees so I can properly give some insight to that in a few weeks. Saw Manchester by the Sea last week and La La Land today, might even go bang out another one tonight, but before I do anything else I have to get a post up to remember what Malcolm Butler did two years ago tonight. Today February 1st is the two year anniversary of the Malcolm Butler interception that won Super Bowl XLIX for the New England Patriots.
The Patriots are set to play in the Super Bowl again this Sunday. They have a chance to win their 2nd championship in three seasons. It's crazy to type that because not that long ago many people (myself included) were wondering if Tom Brady would ever lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl win again? I think it's important to remember how big of a deal Malcolm Butler's interception was. It altered the of history two franchise forever. Going into Super Bowl XLIX it had been 10 seasons since the Patriots won a championship.
I've re-watched Super Bowl XLIX no less than 25 times and know the game like the back of my hand. The Patriots were down 24-14 in the 4th quarter. After leading two touchdown drives against the Seattle "Legion of Boom" defense the Patriots now led 28-24 with 2:02 left on the clock. Despite the lead no Patriot fans felt safe. How could we? We've read this book before and twice the story ended horribly for us.
I know I'm going to sound like a real ass hole talking about how hard a 10 year championship drought was, but given the circumstances as a fan it was brutal. You have to understand how much more it hurts. To be so close yet falter in the biggest moments. I'd argue it hurts more than being a fan of a loser franchise with no hope. Like what hurts more? Getting dumped at the alter or rejected asking a girl out? The answer is obvious. That's how it felt to be a Patriots fan from 2005-2013. Left at the alter. The Patriots left multiple championships on the field from 2005-2013. Despite already winning 3 Super Bowls, appearing in 2 more, a 16-0 regular season, and being a perennial Super Bowl contender, the Patriots went a decade without winning a championship. They didn't have the ring.
After all the close calls and fantastic seasons 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 it seemed like it was very possible that the Tom Brady led Patriots may never win another Super Bowl. I didn't want to believe it but I'd be lying if I told you I never thought it. There were many heartbreaking close calls for the Patriots but none were quite like Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
In 2007 the Patriots went 16-0. They won their first two playoff games to go into the Super Bowl 18-0. The Pats went into the game 12 point favorites, and it seemed like they just had to show up and they'd be 19-0. Not only Super Bowl champions but also the greatest team in NFL history.
The game was hard fought against the New York Giants. Even though the Patriots did not look like their record setting selves in the big game they still had a 14-10 lead with 2:42 remaining. They just had to keep the Giants out of the endzone and they'd be 19-0. Then on their final drive the Giants were able to pull off literally the luckiest play in the history of sports en route to pulling off one of the most monumental upsets in the history of sports. The Giants won 17-14 and the Patriots were now 18-1. They went from potential all time great to laughing stock. I was a sophomore in high school when that happened and I'd say realistically I wasn't over that game until after I graduated.
Then four years later the Patriots had their chance for revenge against the New York Giants. This time at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. The Pats were up 17-15 late in the 4th quarter with the ball. After going down 9-0 early the Patriots were able to take a 17-9 lead. I can't lie when Brady hit Aaron Hernandez in the end zone I can remember thinking to myself that they were finally going to do it, win that elusive 4th championship. I started getting pretty emotional just thinking about all the time that had passed between championships. All the years of waiting was about to finally be over. Put all the "no rings since spy gate" shit to bed. Shut all the Patriot haters up. Unfortunately that didn't happen. Wes Welker dropped a pass that at the very least would've given the Patriots the ball within field goal range with a chance to milk the clock and probably win the game. They ended up punting and again Eli Manning was able to pull of a miracle with his pass to Mario Manningham. People will try to compare that to the Tyree catch, and while that play did hurt it was just a great play. It wasn't lucky. It sucked to have it happen again but it was nothing like the Tyree play.
So Seattle gets the ball. It's a touchback on the kickoff, they get one more play before the two minute warning. I actually was in the bathroom from the commercial break after the Pats scored and missed this play live. I came back to find out Russell Wilson hit Marshawn Lynch up the left sideline to get to near mid field. With just a shade under 2 minutes left the Seahawks needing a touchdown to win their 2nd straight Super Bowl. I was a nervous wreck. That's when it happened. It looked like Malcolm Butler made a great play to force the incompletion on a deep ball to Jermaine Kearse. I can remember looking at my phone afterwards thinking the play was over as the ball must've it the ground. It didn't. The reactions of everybody else around me told the story.
Kearse caught it.
After it looked like Malcolm Butler had one of the most athletic pass break ups I've ever seen the ball somehow bounced into Kearse's hands it felt like the same nightmare all over again. A miracle play to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. How could this happen again?
With just over a minute left the Seahawks were on the 5 yard line. 5 yards from a second straight championship. The Patriots were 5 yards away from losing their 3rd Super Bowl in 7 years. After a 4 yard run on a first and goal the clock was running. The Seahawks were on the 1 yard line. I can remember freaking out, yelling "why the fuck isn't Bill calling time out?" It seemed inevitable the Patriots were going to lose the Super Bowl in heart breaking fashion yet again. I mean they had the ball 2nd and goal on the 1 with Marshawn Lynch. I didn't love our chances to say the least. I wanted Bill to at least have a chance to get the ball back and pray that the Hail Mary works. I felt so low. I was sick to my stomach I couldn't believe it was able to happen again. We were really going to lose another Super Bowl.
Then this happened. ( I know the NFL blocks it on blogs but you can rewatch this on youtube)
Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson in the end zone to basically win the game. I remember jumping up out of my seat and just started crying. It was the happiest I've ever felt with sports. Complete emotional 180. I went from feeling like I was about to be executed, but then the phone rang. It wasn't the warden, it was Malcolm Butler letting us all Patriot fans know we didn't have to wait another year. We didn't have to hear the Tom Brady can't do it without cameras bull shit. The you haven't won anything since 2004 bullshit. After a decade of being one of the best teams only to have weird fluky things happen we finally won. The Patriots after a decade of close calls were Super Bowl Champions. Malcolm Butler changed the entire narrative for both franchises involved.
For the Seahawks they went from a potential dynasty to just another team who won a Super Bowl trying to get back. The play call to not run the ball has still caused problems between players and coaches two years later. Now people are asking if their championship window is closing after two disappointing years where they were unable to get past the divisional round.
For the Patriots instead of going to 3-3 in Super Bowls under Brady and Belichick with 3 straight losses and no championships in the a decade, they go to 4-2 and show they can win the big one after years of doubt. The difference from 3-3 to 4-2 in Super Bowls cannot be understated. Instead of Tom Brady being remembered for losing the big game again, he cemented his legacy as the greatest ever. I find it very ironic because if the Seahawks win Brady still had the exact same stats that were good enough to win Super Bowl MVP. This interception erased all the naysayers who could always say "yeah but". You could say whatever you wanted, it wasn't going to change the fact that the New England Patriots were Super Bowl champions.
No play is bigger in the history of the Super Bowl IMO for that very reason. It literally took the trophy out of one team's hands and put it in another. The Seahawks had the game all but won. Then Malcolm saved the day, the season and the legacy of the New England Patriots.
I've also wondered this a ton in the last two years and think it's absolute bull shit that he's gotten a free pass...why doesn't Russell Wilson get more blame? Sure it was a horrible call but at the end of the day it's on the players to execute. Russell Wilson should get way more shit for throwing the interception that lost the Super Bowl. I hate that. In highlights after the play he asked what happened? Like bro you threw a pick, that's what happened.