“Play clock at five,” Al Michales said to the world with 25 ticks remaining in Super Bowl XLIX. “Pass is intercepted at the goal-line by Malcolm Butler! Unreal!”
The entire region of New England exploded with celebration. Tom Brady could not hold back his excitement on the sideline, and really, who could blame him. Undrafted rookie corner Malcolm Butler had made the play of the century.
Boston sports fans have had the privilege of watching some of the greatest teams, players, and moments in sports history. They have witnessed the careers of iconic athletes that all created solid cases for making their sports’ Mt. Rushmore.
Bostononians in the 1940’s and 1950’s saw a brash left fielder devote his life to becoming the greatest hitter who ever lived. Some believe he accomplished that goal.
In the 1960’s they watched Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics dominate their league in a way few organizations could even imagine.
In the 1970’s, they saw Orr fly. In the 1980’s, they saw Bird soar. In the 1990’s, they saw Pedro dazzle.
In the 21st Century, the rest of the country began to loath Boston and their sports fans. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron have all given Boston fans countless reasons to smile.
Maybe the most nauseating stretch the rest of the country had to sit through was June of 2008 to February of 2015. The Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, and Patriots all won championships during those 2,420 days. Four titles by all four teams in six years, seven months, and 15 days.
Of all the great plays over the decades, Butler’s interception five years ago Saturday was the most important play for a number of reasons.
The first being how it directly swung a championship. If Butler either does not beat Ricardo Lockette to the ball, or does not complete the interception, the Seahawks are at the one yard line with roughly 20 seconds remaining. They also have timeout remaining.
Seattle could then do whatever they wanted on third down. Marshawn Lynch, as we all remember, was in the back field. Russell Wilson was more than capable of sneaking in or finding someone open for six.
Is it a guarantee that Seattle scores on one of those two plays? No. Did they have a better chance of scoring than New England did of stopping them or creating a turnover? I believe so.
Not to mention, if the Seahawks scored on any of those three downs, it would have been incredibly unlikely for the Patriots to tie the game. They did have two timeouts remaining, but at best the offense would have had 20 seconds to work with. Not impossible, but I doubt they would have been able to kick the game tying field goal. Also, if Seattle scored on 4th down there would have been just mere seconds left for a miracle.
If Butler just makes a great play and breaks up the pass, and not an all time play of an interception, I think Seattle comes away as champions. That would have been two Super Bowl wins in three seasons for the Legion of Boom. Read Part 2 where I dive into why this game was the most important win in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s career.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones