BOSTON (CBS) — The Super Bowl is great theater for many reasons, but one thing fans look for every year is an unknown stepping up big, making a game-changing play when it matters most.
The Patriots have enjoyed a few of those during their historic run over the last 15 years. It started with Tom Brady’s surgical drive at the end of Super Bowl XXXVI to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal against the St. Louis Rams, which shot the quarterback into the superstar stratosphere.
Then there was Malcolm Butler two years ago, perhaps the best example of a true underdog story. The outcome of Super Bowl XLIX comes down to two simple words yelled by New England safeties coach Brian Flores: “Malcolm, GO!” The undrafted rookie free agent saved the day with his interception of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the one-yard line, forever cementing himself in Patriots history. He’s since gone on to prove he’s no one-hit wonder, as he heads into Super Bowl LI as New England’s top corner, primed for a big matchup against Atlanta’s high-powered offense.
So who will be this year’s Malcolm Butler? That’s what the CBS Boston crew tackles in today’s Super Bowl Question of the Day:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Running back Dion Lewis.
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
Corner Jonathan Jones. Although there isn’t anyone as obscure on the Pats roster this time around as Butler was in 2014, Jones is as good a candidate as any. I could see him with a scoop and score after a special teams tackle.
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
This year’s Malcolm Butler could be corner Eric Rowe. He’s going to see playing time and the ball will be thrown his way. Hopefully he’s ready for the big moment.
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Malcolm Butler is going to be this year’s Malcolm Butler. No, but for real, nobody is ever again going to do what Malcolm Butler did. That was absurd.
As for a lesser-known player who might become a household name, let’s go with James White. Two years ago Shane Vereen had the game of his life. Maybe that’ll happen for White now.
Adam Kaufman, WBZ NewsRadio 1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
Short answer: Nobody.
Malcolm Butler’s an udrafted free agent out of West Alabama, who was a rookie on the 2014 Patriots. He wasn’t a starter. He wasn’t a name. He wasn’t viewed as a playmaker. He didn’t even play in the first half of the Super Bowl, as I recall. Then, with the game on the line, the corner made arguably the biggest play in Super Bowl HISTORY to preserve the win.
I asked Butler this week what he thinks of when he hears, “Malcolm, GO!” He smirked and simply said, “Super Bowl 49.”
That was an organic legend that simply won’t be repeated this year. Tell ya this, though, after his rough start to the year, I’d love to see Cyrus Jones return a kick for a touchdown. Now that would blow some minds.
Mike “Sarge” Riley, WBZ NewsRadio 1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
The Patriots will be holding on to a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter, when Matt Ryan and the Falcons pick apart the Patriots defense on a final drive. But on a third-and-short at the Patriots 30-yard line, it will be Chris Long who strip sacks Ryan and Alan Branch with a fumble recovery to give the Patriots possession and control the clock for their fifth ring.
WBZ-TV will get you ready for Super Bowl LI all weekend! Tune in to a special Patriots All Access on Saturday night at 7pm and a 90-minute edition of Patriots GameDay starting at 11:30am on Super Bowl Sunday! Following the big game on Sunday, tune in to Patriots 5th Quarter on WBZ-TV!
You can hear Bob Socci and Scott Zolak’s call of Super Bowl LI on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 1pm with a special edition of Felger & Mazz from NRG Stadium!