GLENDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - No one in the NFL wanted Malcolm Butler in May’s draft but on Sunday the cornerback from a small college in Alabama made the game-winning play for the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
With Seattle at the one-yard line inside the final minute, the 24-year-old rookie, nicknamed ‘Scrap’, took a chance and threw himself in front of Ricardo Lockette, intercepting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and ensuring a 28-24 win.
Butler said he had been warned during the week by coach Bill Belichick to be prepared for such a play.
“I got beat on the route on Tuesday or Wednesday in practice and Bill told me they are going to do that and they did,” Butler told reporters.
Butler, who played for the University of West Alabama after transferring from Hinds Community College in Mississippi, said he was alerted to the play by the way Seattle stacked their receivers.
“I just drove on the ball,” he said. “I’ve seen some crazy plays (in Super Bowls) and I guess I am down in history for one of them.”
Two plays earlier Butler had been unable to stop the Seahawks when Wilson went deep to Jermaine Kearse, who somehow grabbed the ball after losing it.
“I did my job but at the same time, he caught the ball. I felt like the game was on me and so when I got back in the game that is why I didn’t hesitate to jump a route and pick the ball off,” Butler said.
“Everybody earned this ring but I am just so glad that I could come through with a clutch play that really got the ring.”
Butler earned his nickname because of his habit of always being involved in the action in practice.
“We call him ‘Scrap’ because the first time we saw him he was so scrappy and he found himself around the ball all the time,” said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
”I think that was one of the main reasons he was in the game. He makes plays. That moment with him making that play is just a fairytale ending to a book because of what he has done all year for us.
“It is an amazing feeling to be a rookie and come in and basically win the ball game for us. Amazing”.
Editing by Gene Cherry