Fast forward to Alabama's last possession. Auburn had just tied the game 28-28 when Nick Marshall took advantage of a spectacular breakdown in the Alabama secondary and completed a 39-yard pass to Sammie Coates. Alabama had the ball at its own 29 with :25 left. Two plays gained only nine yards. With :07 left, and Auburn expecting a Hail Mary pass, McCarron handed off to Yeldon again. He sprinted 24 yards and out of bounds at the Auburn 38. The clock said all zeroes. Both teams and every fan in Jordan-Hare expected overtime to begin shortly. But referee Matt Austin announced that the replay official had determined that Yeldon stepped out of bounds before the clock expired.
Instead of throwing a Hail Mary, Saban decided to have Griffith kick one. "Griffith can kick them further than Cade," Saban said.
The freshman's kick came down wide right a yard short of the crossbar, where Davis awaited.
"The first thing I'm looking at is does it have enough distance," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "I saw it didn't have enough distance, and my eyes kind of got on Chris. They had their field goal team out there and it had some big guys on it. I thought he made a couple of guys who could tackle miss ..."
The video replay appeared to show the Alabama players watching the kick. The textbook says that the kicking team shouldn't watch the ball. The players should take their lanes and cover. Alabama practices the play during Friday walk-throughs. No one from the scout team poses as the returner. The kicking team just races downfield.
"We just imagine. Nobody actually returns it," Alabama tight end Brian Vogler said. "... You practice it so many times, and when it happens, you're not expecting that kind of speed."
Davis raced up the left hash mark. Vogler came at him at the middle of the field but seemed hesitant.
"I was actually caught off-guard that no one blocked me," Vogler said. "I was running down the field expecting a blind side [hit] out of nowhere, and when I finally got the opportunity, I was kind of in shock I hadn't gotten laid out by then."
Davis accelerated up the sideline. At midfield, it became apparent no one would touch him.
"Slow motion," Alabama quarterback McCarron said, describing what he saw from 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."
"When I looked back, I said I couldn't believe this," Davis said. "When I was running, I said 'God is good.'"
If God only gives us what we can handle, then he saves an extra shovel full for Saban. Every coach has his Achilles' heel. Bear Bryant couldn't beat Notre Dame. Darrell Royal couldn't beat Barry Switzer, who had it all over Tom Osborne.
Saban? He can't just lose an Iron Bowl. He has to lose it in the most painful way possible.
Three years ago, Alabama led No. 1 Auburn 24-0 in Tuscaloosa and lost 28-27. It seemed as if that would be the loss that, 20 years from now, when Saban has retired and been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, would still awaken him at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat.
But, no, not anymore.
"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."
Common sense says that. History says that. But no one in Auburn is saying that. Move over, "Punt Bama Punt." There's a new legend to tell.