AUBURN, Ala. — On a night that Alabama football needed it most, the Crimson Tide's defense pulled through for one of its best performances of the season in the Iron Bowl.
In the 24-22 four-overtime victory, the Alabama defense held Auburn to just 159 total yards on offense. On the ground, the Tigers were able to only conjure up 22 rushing yards while it was able to snag 137 yards through the air.
On third down, Auburn converted five of its 17 attempts. Tigers quarterback T.J. Finley was also sacked seven times for a loss of 37 yards.
"I think through the whole week, preparation was great," linebacker Will Anderson Jr. said after the game. "The whole week, we had energy, we were fighting around, we were competing, we were having fun. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We had a leadership meeting this week and it was 'expect the unexpected' — you know, prepare for pressure — and I think that's what we did this week.
"We were prepared for pressure, and as you can see, we were in there in the game. It was a dogfight, but we overcame the dogfight."
In the game's fourth overtime period, the defense pulled through one final time. On what would be Auburn's final 2-point attempt, Finley was flushed out of the pocket under pressure, forcing him to throw the ball early and incomplete.
Alabama scored on the ensuing attempt, ending the game. While the offense will likely get the majority of the credit for the second-half comeback, the staying power of the defense was ultimately what set up the comeback for the Crimson Tide.
"After halftime, it just seemed like everybody was all in," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We were fighting like I've never seen us fight all year long. It's a great feeling. The players were as happy as I've ever seen them after the game."
At the end of the game, linebacker Henry To'oTo'o led the team in tackles with nine, including one tackle for loss. Anderson finished with seven tackles, with three of those being for a loss including one sack. Linebacker Dallas Turner finished the game with three tackles with 1.5 sacks.
In total, the Crimson Tide defense held Auburn to just 2.4 yards per play.
"The same energy that we had in the game was the same energy that we had in practice the whole week," Anderson said. "We knew it was going to be a dogfight. You know sometimes, the offense, they have our back and it just happened this game [that] we had to have their back. We had to go out there and everybody had to execute, everybody had to be on the same page because we knew what type of game this was going to be.
"This is the Iron Bowl. This is a rivalry. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, so we knew what was expected to happen and we went out there and played."
Gallery: Alabama 24, Auburn 22 (4OT)
Photos courtesy of Alabama Athletics, Auburn Athletics