I’ve never been more stunned at the end of game in my life.
Cade Foster, kicker for Alabama, has gotten a lot of grief for this loss but he didn’t lose this game. And I imagine nobody feels as bad as he did (or still does). We’ve got lineman with stupid penalties, receivers with drop passes, missed tackles and missed coverages we could blame as well.
But ultimately Alabama got beat it in a way that I would have previously thought impossible – they got outcoached. Malzahn’s plan was simple – keep it close, run it east-west enough to keep the safeties honest but gut ‘Bama up the middle, and trust your special teams.
It’s classic Iron Bowl strategy. Don’t get cute, don’t overthink this. And Saban did. From going for it on 4th and 1 with an obvious formation and play call to trotting out a freshman kicker with 1 second to the Auburn timeout when Malzahn pulled his field goal block team to his punt return team – Saban kept making this more difficult than it needed to be. If you have the choice to either put the game on the foot of a kicker or in the hands of AJ McCarron, the hands of AJ is the decision you make every time. And Saban didn’t do that.
Having said all that – Auburn is one lucky team and that isn’t an insult. Luck happens to those teams who just keep grinding and never quit. And that’s what they did. Congrats on the win.
And despite the painful ending – this is why the Iron Bowl is the best rivalry in sports.
My therapy for the Iron Bowl was getting to go to the Bronco-Chief game. My good friend (and brother from another mother) Nate Terrel took me. He is a die-hard Chief fan and we constantly give each other grief. This has been a good year for me.
The Arrowhead experience is probably the most underrated in sports. As we drove in, you could see the smoke rising from the parking lot as grills and smokers were becoming altars of all kinds of meats. It is a sight to behold. The parking lot smells like a BBQ joint complete with the classic rock playing all over the place. There are corn hole battles and ladder golf tourneys all over the place. And most of the time the people parking next to you are just as happy to share and tell stories like they are at a family reunion. Even in my bronco gear, after the initial teasing is over, there were some great conversations and laughter. An hour before kickoff, fireworks go off to tell everyone it’s time ‘for church’. Tailgating in Arrowhead is a bucket list experience.
As for the game – Manning may move up into the third most hated Bronco if he keeps torching them the way he has (Behind Elway and Shannon Sharpe). The Bronco defense is pretty porous and I think the Chiefs could have run on them all day long with Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith made one bad throw and had at least 5 passes for large gains dropped. Not ‘it would have been a tough catch’ kind of drops. But ‘it hit them in the numbers on time’ drops. (In fact, one of them should have been called a fumble, but I digress.). Combine this with KC allergy to the number 87, and it made for a long second half for the Chefs.
Great game, great atmosphere.