Alabama Football: Five times defense slammed the door on Texas A&M

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(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

1. Alabama Football: An early fourth down stop

Coming into this game, Texas A&M had lived off of fast starts, scoring on each of its first two possessions in every game. Bobby Petrino once again had a good script drawn up, and A&M moved the ball fairly easily on the Tide on its first drive. A 31-yard catch and run by Moose Muhammad III keyed the drive and quickly got A&M in field goal range. Three plays later, the Aggies had moved into the red zone with a 3rd & 1 from the Bama 19.

This set the stage for the first big stop of the game for the Alabama defense. It stuffed Le’Veon Moss on third down, forcing Jimbo Fisher and company to make the questionable decision to go for it on 4th and short.

Max Johnson’s play-action pass was doomed from the start as Dallas Turner penetrated into the Aggie backfield unimpeded, preventing Johnson from finding an open receiver downfield or even getting off a pass beyond the line of scrimmage. Back from an ankle injury, Deontae Lawson got in on the pass breakup and ensured that A&M would not move the chains even if the desperation pass was completed.

Bama took back the momentum in an instant with this stop. In what was a close game throughout, Texas A&M would regret leaving three points on the field.

2. Alabama Football: Caleb Downs gets it back

As the Bama offense struggled in the first half, A&M capitalized on good field position to take a 17-10 lead into the locker room. The Tide came out moving the ball in the third quarter, with Jalen Milroe seemingly finding his rhythm. However, things quickly turned bleak for the road team when A&M safety Bryce Anderson undercut an Amari Niblack seam route and picked off Milroe, suddenly killing what had been one of the more promising drives of the game for Alabama.

A&M now had possession with a 17-10 lead, all the momentum, and the opportunity to go up by two scores. Put in a difficult position, the Bama defense answered the bell, and the Aggies’ good fortune was squandered almost immediately.

Just two plays after Milroe’s untimely turnover, Max Johnson threw a crossing route off his back foot while facing pressure from senior linebacker Trezmen Marshall. Johnson’s pass was slightly behind his intended target (his brother Jake), and true freshman safety Caleb Downs made an incredibly athletic play to intercept the pass and get the ball back for the Tide. Given a second chance, Milroe would convert the pick into a game-tying touchdown that took the air out of the raucous partisan crowd at Kyle Field.