As December begins to make the leap towards January, and a new a year, many people like to think back to some of the big, and key moments they had this year, and reflect on some of the biggest things that happened over the course of the year. For me, 2015 was a big year, and when I think back to some of my best “highlights” it satisfies me knowing that I had a pretty good year, and it excites me to stay on that track for 2016.
In 2015, I not only reached new milestones, and learned new things, but I created so many memories with some of the smallest things, and some of the unlikeliest people. Take this one for example, February 1st. I remember that day just like it was yesterday. When I think back to that day, it was arguably one of the best of my life, top 10 at least. Everything just sorta clicked that day. It was like one minute after another, everything was just perfect. Here’s what I’m talking about.
Well for starters, I’ve been a huge Patriots fan since I can remember, fourth grade I think, and that should explain a lot of why February 1st, 2015 was such a great day. But it wasn’t just the game that means so much to me.
Thinking back, I remember playing basketball and football with a couple of neighborhood friends… even though I’m positive there were chunks of snow and ice covering the ground, and it was like 35 degrees out. Glancing back, I can proudly remember all the laughs I had with those friends, and how quickly the day passed by. A few of them aren’t Pats fans and I can still hear them say things like “well at least Ryan Tannehill doesn’t deflate his footballs!” I can remember air balling at least ten three pointers, due to the fact I could barely feel my hands. I can also remember trying not to slip and fall when attempting to go deep in hopes of a touchdown pass coming my way. I can also remember rushing home later that day because my family was having a Super Bowl party, and it would’ve looked really bad if I arrived half an hour after everyone else did. I can remember the direct smell of pizza, and the sight of bowls of chips scattered around. I can even remember all of the younger Pats fans with #12 jerseys on running around not knowing how big of a deal this game was, or who was even playing in it for that matter. It was just one of those days were everything was perfect.
From there on I remember being super excited for the game to start, and when it started I was just glued to the screen. The game was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and you might agree, but there’s one play in particular that made that day so special to me.
February 1, 2015 (Super Bowl 49)
Following a cheap Doug Baldwin end zone touchdown, the New England Patriots found themselves in a 24-14 hole to start the 4th quarter. They were led by franchise great, Tom Brady on not one, but two drives ending in a touchdown to put the team up 28-24. It seemed as if New England would be taking home their first championship in over ten years, but the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks had 2:02 left on the clock to work with, and as we all know that kind of time feels like a lifetime in sports.
A wheel route completion to Marshawn Lynch put the Seahawks in great field position to go into the final two minutes with confidence, and just when it couldn’t get any worse this happened : Kearse catch
After this play it seemed like the football Gods were just laughing hysterically at the Patriots and their Super Bowl hopes. Three Super Bowls in a row now where a wide receiver’s made an UNBELIEVABLE catch to help set up their team with a win against the Patriots.
Following this play it was as if a black cloud had zoomed over Patriots nation, and a win here seemed impossible to even think about. One thing I notice when I look back at this play is Malcolm Butler realizing he’s just given up the almost impossible catch, and turning around, getting up and making the tackle to stop Jermaine Kearse from walking into the end zone. Kearse could’ve easily just dashed in for a touchdown if Malcolm didn’t make the tackle, and people never talk about that but it was such a huge moment that played such huge role in the events that happened next.
Next play, they give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who had a pretty good game that day. Lynch took a powerful run and looked like he was surely going to get in the end zone for the final cropping of a Seattle victory. Lynch was stopped at the one yard line by Patriots linebacker, D’onta Hightower, who had been playing fairly bruised up for a large portion of the game. No wait, scratch that, the dude was practically playing with one arm when he made that tackle on the goal line. If that tackle hadn’t been made, game would’ve ended right then and there. Another play people often forget about, but it was one of the many game savers.
2nd and 1, and you know what happened next, but just to relive the magic, here it is : The Butler did it
Malcolm Butler, the un drafted rookie cornerback, the guy who gave up the huge losing catch to Jermaine Kearse about 30 seconds ago, jumped the route and intercepted a quick Russell Wilson pass to save the game for the Patriots. He went from being the goat of the game to the G.OA.T in like two seconds. I don’t know about you, but after this play everyone standing in front of my tv was jumping around, screaming, hugging each other in shock that Malcolm Butler had saved our season. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen, or will ever see again. For me, it was easily one of the best moments of the year.
Since then people have questioned Pete Carroll’s call to throw the ball at the goal line, and I don’t blame them. If I had #24 on my team, I’d run the ball too. I understand it’s not a given that Marshawn Lynch gets over the goal line, but odds are he does. And if he doesn’t… you still have like two more tries! It was only 2nd down when they decided to throw the ball, so why not run it one more time, then you can start thinking about throwing if Lynch can’t cross the plains. Why they called that play, I don’t know, I’ll never know, and frankly I don’t care to know either. It’s been more than 10 months since Malcolm Butler made that historic play, and I still can’t believe it happened.
For me, that play set up 2015 for the great year it came to be, and it’s easily the play of the year in not just football, but basketball, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer, sumo wrestling, and ever other sport as well. It may not have been the most impressive play ever, but it’s because of the moment, and the player who did it, that makes it so special.
So thank you Malcolm Butler for not just winning the game for the New England Patriots, and becoming Super Bowl 49 hero, but for making my, and a lot of other people’s 2015 just a bit better.