It isn’t easy to overshadow the NFL, particularly on a Thanksgiving weekend with playoff races taking shape, but the classic finish of the Iron Bowl didn’t just overshadow the pro games, the Alabama-Auburn game overwhelmed it.
In case you missed it, Auburn shocked No. 1 Alabama when Chris Davis returned a missed 57-yard field-goal attempt 100 yards for a touchdown and a 34-28 victory with one second remaining. There were seismic repercussions for fans of both teams — and for fans of the others who suddenly found polls and the BCS standings upended — but for Alabama kicker Cade Foster, the loss brought death threats.
Never mind that Foster wasn’t the one attempting the 57-yarder that would have won the game for the Crimson Tide. Foster, who had made 11 of 12 attempts coming into the game, missed two tries and had another blocked during the game and Coach Nick Saban sent in Adam Griffith to try the 57-yarder. In the heat of the moment after Davis worked his magic, Foster’s life was threatened and his teammates came to his defense.
Love my team!! Salute to AU players Great program but let me say this we win & lose as a team. If u blame this on 1 guy U aren't a true fan!
— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) December 1, 2013
A.J. McCarron, the team’s quarterback, said he had spoken to Foster and “I told him, ‘Hold your head high.’ It’s one loss. We still have a chance to play for a BCS bowl game. Cade’s a great kid. It wasn’t all his fault. Other people struggled. I love him to death and I have all the confidence in him in the world that he could go out there right now and make the kicks. The one thing about him is he needs to keep his head high and be proud.
“Like I said, football is just a game. It’s not life. Times like this people need to realize the sun’s going to rise tomorrow.”
And when it did, Florida State was No. 1 in polls and in the BCS, a precipitous fall for a Crimson Tide team hoping to win its third consecutive national title.
In a letter online, Alabama student Kaitlin Goins apologized for her fellow fans. ”I want to apologize for fans `booing’ you,” Goins wrote. ”I want to apologize for the hateful comments. I want to apologize for the death threats. I want to apologize for the future interviews. I want to apologize for the future comments.
”But mostly, I want to apologize because your fan base did not stand behind you when you needed us the most.”
Fans could have been angry with the rest of the kicking team, which appeared to watch the kick and not get into position. Or with Saban and the coaches, who had only bigger, slower guys on the field.
“First time I ever lost a game that way,” Saban said. “First time I have ever seen a game lost that way. We had the wind behind us, but [we] still should have covered it. The game should not have ended that way.”
But it did and, as Alabama fell from the No. 1 spot, McCarron said everything was just unspooling in “slow motion” on the sideline. “I mean, this is one of those crazy plays. It’s almost like a video game. That’s something you do on ‘Madden’ or ‘NCAA.’ It’s just a wild play.”
Almost a year ago, Davis had campaigned to be placed on special teams with this tweet:
I need to get on kick return and punt return this year
— Chris Davis (@chris11au) December 5, 2012
On Saturday night, he said: “When I looked back, I said I couldn’t believe this,” Davis said. “When I was running, I said ‘God is good.'”
Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton couldn’t resist an “I told you so” in his press conference after the Carolina Panthers’ victory Sunday.
It was an instant classic and painful as it may be for ‘Bama fans, it was perhaps the best finish in a college game not involving a band.