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Newcomers shine in Patriots Super Bowl win

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PHOENIX – The 15-year veteran who won his fourth Super Bowl was named the game’s MVP. But Tom Brady got a helping hand from a slew of newcomers, none more so than undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler.

Butler came up with the game-saving interception at the one to preserve a 28-24 lead with 20 seconds remaining in their victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

“Unbelievable play by Malcolm,” Brady said. “I saw the interception and couldn’t believe it. It was just an incredible play. A championship play.”

It was Butler’s first career interception.

“He’s been doing it to me in practice all season, so it was actually nice to see him pick somebody else off,” Brady said with a laugh.

New England Coach Bill Belichick lauded the defensive back for his work ethic.

“He has competed every day,” Belichick said. “He’s had his moments. That’s a big jump from West Alabama to the NFL but Malcolm competes hard and he works hard.”

Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, both offseason signings, combined to hold Seattle’s top two wide receivers to four catches for 48 yards.

On the offensive side, wide receiver Brandon LaFell got the scoring started for the Patriots with an 11-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. LaFell signed a three-year deal last spring.

“All three players, really — Revis, Browner, and LaFell — are three guys that came in that weren’t on our team and made a real big impact,” said Belichick, who played a role in orchestrating the moves in the offseason.

The secondary faced major questions after New England failed to re-sign star corner Aqib Talib. He eventually signed with Denver, prompting the Pats to reach out to Browner and Revis as options.  And, as Belichick put it, “It worked out.”

A midseason move to acquire a familiar face also helped propel the team. Running back LeGarrette Blount, signed Nov. 20, was the team’s featured bruiser in last year’s postseason before signing with Pittsburgh to start this season. He returned to his hard-running role, with a historic performance against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, rushing for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

Blount was relatively quiet in the Super Bowl with only 40 yards on the ground and no trips to the end zone but his 14 carries in the game were a team-high.

Belichick also cited defensive tackle Alan Branch as an impact player. Branch was another midseason pick-up, signed in October. He recorded three tackles in the game.