FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In the closing seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, an unlikely hero rose like a Phoenix in the Arizona desert to make one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history and propel the New England Patriots to their fourth world championship in 14 years on Sunday, Feb. 1, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Clinging to a 28-24 lead with the Seattle Seahawks offense on New England's 1-yard line, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler cut in front of Seattle wide receiver Ricardo Lockette to intercept a Russell Wilson pass on the goal line with 20 seconds to play under the bright lights of the sport's biggest stage. The play preserved the win for New England.
"At practice I got beat on that play," said Butler, an undrafted rookie from Vicksburg, Miss. "I took steps back in the end zone [during practice] and when game time came, I just didn't back up. I just had confidence and believed what I saw. The formation brought me back to my memory and I knew exactly where that was going because I got beat on the play at practice. I just jumped and made the play; just jumped the route and made a play."
The gloves and cleats Butler wore to make that play, along with the football he intercepted, have been added to The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon's 2014 Season Exhibit, which displays artifacts from milestones and record-setting performances that occurred throughout the Super Bowl championship season.
Butler, who played Division II college football at West Alabama, joined the Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 19, 2014 and earned the nickname, "Scrap," from his teammates for his competitiveness and work ethic. He played in 11 of 16 regular season games for the Patriots, contributing mostly on special teams.
"I just came in trying to make the best of my opportunity," said Butler. "I came to practice; played like my hair was on fire. I did everythin
g the coaches asked [of] me to make the team." Asked what he has enjoyed most in the days following the Super Bowl, Butler remained humble.
"Being able to help my team, everyone getting a ring and everybody played a big part of it," Butler said. "You know, I can help [Tom] Brady out, I can help Darrelle Revis out. I mean, overall, it was just helping everybody out and just being dedicated to the team. I'm just glad I could show up and make a big play to seal the game and get the win for everyone."
Other artifacts from the 2014 championship season currently on display at The Hall include:
- The jersey worn by Tom Brady when he eclipsed 50,000 career passing yards on Oct. 5 against the Bengals in Week 5, along with the ball he threw to accomplish the feat.
- The gloves worn by defensive lineman Chris Jones and the ball he blocked during a game-winning field goal attempt to preserve a Patriots' 27-25 victory over the New York Jets in Week 7 on "Thursday Night Football."
- The gloves and jersey worn by Gronkowski when he caught his 50th career touchdown pass in his 59th career game on Nov. 2 against the Broncos. Gronkowski became the second-fastest player (tied with Randy Moss) to reach the 50-touchdown reception plateau. Gronkowski wore the same jersey on Oct. 26 against the Chicago Bears, when he teamed with Brady to set a franchise record for most touchdown connections between a quarterback and receiver of any position. The tandem entered the game having connected for 45 career touchdowns (tied with Drew Bledsoe and Ben Coates for most in franchise history), but Gronkowski's three touchdown receptions against the Bears established a new team record.
- The game-worn jersey and ball running back Jonas Gray carried to score his fourth touchdown of a career-best performance against Indianapolis in Week 11. Gray finished the game with 201 rushing yards and scored a team-record four rushing touchdowns with one touchdown in each quarter. Gray's performance earned him the NFL's AFC Offensive Player of the Week award for Week 11.
- The jersey worn by Stephen Gostkowski and the ball he kicked in a Week 15 win against the Dolphins to surpass Adam Vinatieri as the Patriots all-time leading scorer.
- The ball caught by wide receiver Brandon LaFell to give the Patriots a 35-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 10. The 23-yard score was also Brady's third touchdown pass of the game to give the legendary quarterback an NFL record 46 career touchdown passes in the postseason. Also on display from the win against Baltimore is an autographed glove worn by defensive back Duron Harmon, who intercepted a Joe Flacco pass in the end zone with 1:39 remaining the fourth quarter.
- The jerseys worn by Brady and running back LeGarrette Blount in the AFC Championship Game win against the Colts. Brady threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns while Blount rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns, as the Patriots beat the Colts, 45-7, to advance to Super Bowl XLIX. Also on display are the gloves worn by cornerback Darrelle Revis in the AFC title game. Revis intercepted Andrew Luck in the third quarter, which led to Blount's second rushing touchdown of the game and put the Patriots up, 38-7. The Hall's featured exhibit, "New England Faithful: 20 Seasons with the Krafts," looks back at the Kraft family's first 20 years of ownership and highlights the team's and the owner's many accomplishments over two decades. The exhibit touches on Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft's purchase of the team and its rise to prominence in the NFL. This season, Kraft became the first owner in NFL history to have his team appear in seven Super Bowls.
The Hall is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Visit www.thehallatpatriotplace.com for ticket prices and more information.
ABOUT THE HALL AT PATRIOT PLACE PRESENTED BY RAYTHEON
The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon is the crown jewel of Patriot Place and the only sports and education experience of its kind. Through a dazzling array of interactive multimedia exhibits and artifacts never before viewable by the public, The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon showcases the tradition of the New England Patriots, explores the history of football in New England, and promotes math and science education for the thousands of schoolchildren expected to visit each year. For more information, please visit www.thehallatpatriotplace.com.