Fourth-down plays determined fates of New Orleans Saints, Alabama
In both cases, it all came down to fourth-and-goal plays at the 2-yard-line. Defensive stands don't get any better than the two that took place Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
On Saturday, there was unbeaten Alabama, trailing Texas A&M by five points, putting the game in the hands of quarterback AJ McCarron and there was McCarron throwing a rare interception to preserve a 29-24 Aggie victory.
On Sunday, there were the Atlanta Falcons, looking to remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL, and there came a blitzing Cameron Jordan, pressuring quarterback Matt Ryan into a hurried throw that wound up being tipped away by Jabari Greer to seal a 31-27 New Orleans Saints win.
Losing at home to A&M a week following a 21-17 victory over LSU, was an obvious example of how tough life can be in the SEC. In those two games, a Bama team that had been dominant defensively surrendered a total of 853 yards. Johnny Manziel, the Aggies' freshman quarterback, accounted for 345 yards and two touchdowns.
Nick Saban said the games against LSU and A&M brought back memories of what he called ''the Bluegrass Miracle Phenomenon.''
He was going back 10 years, to the time his LSU Tigers defeated Kentucky on a last-play, 74-yard pass to beat Kentucky.
The next week Saban's Tigers lost to, would you believe, Alabama, 31-0.
''One week, you play bad, but you win the game," Saban said. ''The next week, you get your butt kicked because nobody responded to playing bad because you won the Bluegrass Miracle.''
That reminded Saban of what happened this month, beating LSU with a last-minute touchdown after a great drive, then falling behind by 20 points and losing to A&M.
"You can make excuses and say, 'Well, the team was emotionally tired so they weren't quite focusing like they needed to,'" Saban said. ''But they played a heck of a lot better when they got behind 20-0. Everybody all of a sudden got emotionally better. Why couldn't it have been better at the start? Those are the questions I ask myself.''
TV analyst Gary Danielson felt Bama's last two games had something to do with the men on the field.
''This is not a vintage Alabama defense,'' Danielson said. ''They don't have depth at cornerback and they're vulnerable to teams that spread you out. They don't have elite pass rushers like they had last year in Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower.''
Bama can stay alive in the BCS hunt by winning out, by defeating Georgia in the SEC championship game. But, to get into the BCS championship game, Bama will need help, something like Texas defeating unbeaten Kansas State, Southern Cal defeating unbeaten Notre Dame.
As for Les Miles, he's focusing on closing the regular season 10-2, with victories over Ole Miss and Arkansas.
"We recognize we can be a very capable, if not dominant team,'' Miles said. ''the opportunity to play a dominant style of football is a reward in itself. That makes us much more attractive to some of the major bowls. This team wants to play a quality opponent and play in a prestigious postseason game.''
Which reminds me: Who will the Saints be playing in the Superdome in February?
In Super Bowl XLVII?
I know. But I'm not at liberty to say.
As Lance Moore put it about a team that started out 0-4, that is now 4-5, that can be 5-5 with a win at Oakland on Sunday: ''There's still some meat on the bone. There are more plays to be made.''
That's right. More plays to be made in the next seven games.
Some are saying the Saints will have to win six of the seven just to have a chance to stay alive for the postseason.
And they'll have to do it with the worst defense in the NFL, a defense that has given up more than 400 yards in each game this season.
But remember this, it's also a defense that limited the Falcons to one touchdown in the final 40 minutes of a 31-27 victory.
With an offense quarterbacked by Drew Who Dat.
Maybe anything's possible.
Fourth-down plays determined fates of New Orleans Saints, Alabama - New Orleans Saints Football NFL News - NOLA.com
Re: Fourth-down plays determined fates of New Orleans Saints, Alabama
The Alabama loss hurts.......the Atlanta game made me forget. :smile:
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