Tennessee beats Alabama football on last-second field goal
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE —Alabama football looked like it had the game clinched.
The Kool-Aid McKinstry was running toward the end zone, and even if he didn’t make it, the Crimson Tide appeared to be in control. Alabama had a lead in the final minutes Saturday and was about to have the football deep in Tennessee Vols territory.
But wait. There was a flag. Alabama commits pass interference.
The play was coming back. Shortly after, Tennessee tied the game.
The Crimson Tide, whether it was early in the game or toward the end, just couldn’t get out of its own way.
Tennessee took advantage of a missed field goal late, and the Vols kicked the game-winner at the buzzer to beat Alabama 52-49 at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee snapped a 15-year losing streak to Alabama.
Here are observations and takeaways from the game between No. 1 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) and No. 8 Tennessee (6-0, 3-0).
Outside of a few turnovers, defense struggles against Hendon Hooker and company.
Alabama was well aware of the tempo with which the Vols’ offense operates. It was talked about repeatedly throughout the week. Knowing about it often didn’t matter, though.
The Crimson Tide struggled to slow Tennessee’s fast-paced offense. Blink, and the Vols had already run several plays. That quick tempo prevented Alabama from affecting Hooker, and the Vols offense rolled early. Tennessee had already scored three touchdowns by the end of the first quarter.
Hooker and the receivers continued to find soft spots in coverage, and Alabama struggled to find ways to disrupt a usually clean pocket for Hooker. That led to plenty of offensive success for the Vols.
Alabama eventually stopped the bleeding and had a few impressive plays. There were a couple of fourth-down stops, and DeMarco Hellams became the first defender to intercept Hooker in about 11 months. Dallas Turner also recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
Still, the defense couldn’t stop giving up plays late, in particular to Jalin Hyatt. He cooked the Crimson Tide secondary for 207 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Then Tennessee drove down the field in the final minute, ending with the game-winning kick.
Discipline problems and mistakes put Alabama behind early.
It almost became silly how Alabama was finding ways to get penalized on one first-quarter drive.
First, there was holding on the kickoff return. Tennessee had just taken a 14-7 lead, and the Crimson Tide needed to respond. Another holding penalty on the first offensive play. Before Alabama could run another play, the Crimson Tide had a false start. The drive only got worse from there. Mix the penalties with a Traeshon Holden drop, and James Burnip soon had to punt out of Alabama’s end zone.
The Crimson Tide reached seven penalties for the game on Burnips’ punt. More than five minutes still remained in the first quarter. Alabama had nine penalties for 71 yards in the first half alone.
These hampered an Alabama team that was already up against a talented Tennessee team in a hostile Neyland Stadium.
As far as mistakes go, none were more glaring than Quandarrius Robinson’s punt return mistake when he tried to pick up a loose ball and Tennessee recovered. Shortly after the turnover, the Vols took a 28-10 lead with 11:41 left in the first half.
Bryce Young’s shoulder is more than fine.
Was Young injured recently? He certainly didn’t look like a player fresh off a shoulder injury.
After missing the previous week’s game vs. Texas A&M, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was back to his old tricks as Alabama’s quarterback: making defenders miss, extending plays, and throwing footballs into tight windows.
His third-quarter drive to help Alabama take its first lead was a masterpiece. Young led a 12-play, 75-yard march made possible by his Houdini-like moves and remarkable throws. The pass to tight end Cameron Latu along the right sideline was nothing short of impressive.
Jahmyr Gibbs continues to be a gamer.
Outside of Young, the next player you would want to have the ball in an important moment is Gibbs.
He froze defenders at times. He also proved clutch when it came to scoring. He had three rushing touchdowns by the end of the third quarter.
In another 100-plus-yard rushing day for Gibbs, he proved to be the best player on the Alabama offense not named Young.