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The Film Room: Malcolm Butler wins matchup versus Odell Beckham Jr. ... barely

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In their first rematch of Super Bowl XLVI — when the New York Giants bested the New England Patriots — Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faced Pats’ cornerback Malcolm Butler, the player made most famous for his game-winning interception in Super Bowl 49. But could Butler build off of that play or just become a sports trivia question nobody knows the answer to five years later?

Beckham was targeted 12 times by Eli Manning, catching four of those passes for 104 yards and a touchdown -- 87 of those yards came on the first passing play of the game. In coverage, Butler primarily played Beckham in bump-and-run coverage using a physical, press technique on the line of scrimmage in order to stop Beckham from using his acceleration in space.

My Three Takeaways

  1. Outside of Beckham’s 87-yard touchdown score, Butler dominated Beckham, limiting him to five yards on nine targets.
  2. Butler used a press technique to disrupt Beckham’s routes legally off the line of scrimmage.
  3. Butler broke up four passes showing great awareness, especially on hitch routes.

Based on the film, it’s easy to see that Butler has developed into a solid cornerback since going undrafted. He isn’t on the same level as Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson, but he is quickly approaching that level with just two years of experience in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks face the Patriots in Week 10 this season. The key match-up to watch will be Doug Baldwin versus Butler — Doug Baldwin and Odell Beckham’s games are actually pretty similar. I imagine the Patriots will employ a similar strategy using Butler in bump-and-run coverage.