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Alabama Offense Overcomes Mistakes, Comes Through in Fourth Quarter to Beat Auburn

Alabama's first half was the worst of the season, but still comes through with clutch plays to win Iron Bowl.

AUBURN, Ala. -- Alabama’s passing game? Not great.

Third-down conversions? Atrocious.

The running game? What running game?

Penalties? More than enough to make Bo Nix happy.

Add it all up and Saturday’s effort against Auburn was the Crimson Tide’s ugliest offensive performance this season.

Despite all the miscues and ineptness, Alabama pulled off one of the greatest wins in program history with a 24-22 quadruple overtime at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"Wow, what a game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I can't tell you how proud I am of our players continuing to compete. You cannot imagine players competing in a game any better than the way they competed in this game. We were fighting like I've never seen us fight."

It was all thanks to Alabama’s final drive of regulation with a 1:35 left. It was a master class in the two-minute drill as Bryce Young guided the offense 97 yards on 12 plays for the game-tying score. Ja’Corey Brooks caught a highlight-reel, over-the-shoulder catch for a 28-yard touchdown to tie the game 10-10.

"Our receivers and Bryce made some plays when we needed to down the stretch and that was the difference in the game," Saban said.

On the drive, Young was 4 of 10 for 85 yards. Brooks, a replacement for Jameson Williams, who was ejected in the first half for targeting, had both his catches for 49 yards on the drive.

"When your number is called you have to be ready," Young said. "Ja'Corey is someone who prepared and worked super hard throughout the offseason and the season. Tonight was a big night for him. We had a one-on-one matchup and I had faith in him to win that matchup."

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The score led to the overtime drama, where Alabama walked it off with a Young-to-John Metchie score in the fourth overtime period.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling because of the adversity we went through as a team and the intensity of the game,” Metchie said. "The energy was crazy (after the win) with the way we bounced back and had to fight through external factors 

With playoff implications in play, it was perplexing to see the type of offensive effort by the Crimson Tide in the first half and part of the second. The fact it came in the Iron Bowl was even more of a head-scratcher.

Credit must be given to Auburn’s defense in the Tigers, but the Crimson Tide didn’t do anything to help its cause. Receivers had multiple drops and Bryce Young was sacked seven times. Alabama totaled just 71 rushing yards (minus 1 yard through three quarters).

The most egregious mistakes were the ones that came at the worst possible moments.

Here are the top miscues of the night.

The fourth-and-1 failure with two minutes to play was close, but close doesn’t count. It was a snapshot of Alabama’s inability to run the ball when it mattered. Twice in the first half Alabama had third-and-1 and failed both times to pick up the first down. Alabama was 8 of 22 on third-down attempts.

Perhaps the costliest mistake was the targeting call on Williams in the first half. That was a double-whammy since Williams, the Crimson Tide’s top receiver, was ejected and it gave Auburn a short field. The Tigers scored a touchdown a few plays later.

There was the personal foul call on Emil Ekiyor (continuing to play after his helmet was knocked off) that negated a 15-yard Brian Robinson run when Alabama needed something, anything, positive. Overall, Alabama had 11 penalties for 129 yards.

You can’t forget about the bobbled snaps. One was on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter and the other was on a field goal in third quarter.

Misfortune turned to opportunity in the second half, however. A few adjustments were made and the Crimson Tide finally found success in the final quarter with 62 rushing yards and 155 passing yards.

"We started getting the ball out (of Young's hands) quicker using RPOs," Saban said. "That loosened (Auburn) up a little bit and loosened our running game up a bit. There were a lot of things we had to fix, but I think the one thing that you can say is the players really played hard and had outstanding effort to do it."