Any work of entertainment, be it fictitious or not, is only as great as its ending. I can think of countless movies that blew it in the last few minutes, and created a bitter taste in my mouth as I walked out, thinking of how much better it would be if this scenario or that scenario played out instead.
Happy endings are especially difficult to get right. They have to be believable, and all too many works end on contrived coincidences so that everyone gets to ride off into the sunset, smiling and dancing.
Therefore, I want it noted that it is without hyperbole that I say the 2013 Iron Bowl was the greatest ending of any entertainment medium ever. Just like nothing touched Chris Davis on his 109-yard missed field goal return, nothing comes close to this game.
Some may say this is a bold claim to be making and that I’m still simply caught up in the moment. All too often, a play or a game or a movie or a book or a moment is sanctified shortly after the fact, and we proclaim “this was the best!” and a week or two later, the dust settles and we realize how carried away we were. Nope. Not the case here. Citizen Kane? Boring. Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back? Played out. The Godfather? Pssh. Gone With the Wind? Please. Boise State’s Statue of Liberty to win the 2007 Fiesta Bowl? Awesome, but still not quite there. None of them are the 2013 Iron Bowl.
The sheer fact that it happened is mind boggling. A computer could run that play a 1000 times, and it would never be as perfect as what actually occurred at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Everyone seemed resigned to overtime, except for Alabama coach Nick Saban, who argued that Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon had stepped out with a second still on the clock. When the referees reviewed the play and granted Saban the second, everyone watching was prepared for a Hail Mary to the end zone. ’Bama QB A.J. McCarron literally only wins, having as many championships as he had away losses (two) entering the game, and he’d already led the team the length of the field to take the lead a few minutes earlier, in what seemed to be the crowning moment of the game. But Saban trotted out the field goal team, with freshman Adam Griffith in place of the struggling starter. Fifty-seven yards is what it would take to win the game, and at first blush, Griffith’s kick looked straight and true.
But no, it turned out to be short. And Davis caught it nine yards deep in the end zone. Sure, the announcers mentioned he was there. But there never seemed to be a real chance he’d return it the whole way to win the game. This was No. 1, two-time reigning champ Alabama. This was Nick Saban, the closest thing America has to a Sith. There was no way he could silence them all. And that’s just what he did.
Gus Malzahn, a man who was a high school coach for 16 years and bears more than a passing resemblance to Rick Moranis, a QB who used to play defensive back and a team that went 0-8 in conference last year took down the biggest bully in the school yard. And they did it in the most awesome way imaginable. And if you don’t think that’s a recipe for the greatest ending ever, well there’s the door. War damn Eagle forever.