'Miracle' Bails Out Auburn
November 18, 2013

It was not Flutie to Phelan in 1984. It certainly wasn't the United States hockey team beating the Soviet Union in 1980, and it definitely didn't involve a long white-haired guy with a staff emerging from a mountain with two stone tablets (and it didn't involve anyone turning water into wine either if you prefer a New Testament reference), but everyone is calling the late Auburn touchdown to beat Georgia a miracle.

'Auburn Defeats Georgia on Miracle Play' is the headline in USA Today. 'Miracle Pass Leads Auburn to Stunning Win Over Georgia', writes the Los Angeles Times. 'Miraculous Catch Lifts Auburn Over Georgia on Fox Sports “Miracle of miracles”, said CBS analyst Gary Danielson after recapping the play. It was a great play, a tremendous play. But a miracle?

At least Yahoo! didn't use the M-word, instead going with 'Auburn Keeps Epic Iron Bowl Alive With Ridiculous Tipped Touchdown'. That's more like it. If the two Georgia defenders did what they were supposed to do, the play would never have happened, and the Bulldogs would have gotten a thrilling come-from-behind-win. Instead, we get an even more thrilling touchdown for an Auburn victory. Either way, it was a great ending to a great game. CBS' Danielson called it the play of the year, and that seems to be accurate. Miracle might be appropriate once, but boy did it get overused in a hurry.

In case you didn't see it, are still reading into the fourth paragraph of this story, and don't know what I'm talking about, here's what happened. After Auburn kicked an early fourth quarter field goal to take a 20-point 37-17 lead, the Bulldogs roared back with three straight touchdowns to go in front 38-37. Auburn ball, 36 seconds to go, and fourth down and 18 yards to go on their own 27 yard line. The Tigers had to go for it all, on what figured to be (and was) their final offensive play. Quarterback Nick Marshall back to pass, looking for the home run ball (as Auburn radio described it). He had receiver Ricardo Louis deep, but the ball was badly underthrown. Two Georgia defenders were there, and all one of them had to do was knock the ball to the ground and the Bulldogs would seal the win. The ball was headed right into the chest of Tray Matthews, but teammate Josh Harvey-Clemons reaches in, and tips it into the air. The ball goes over Louis' head. He doesn't even see it at first, then sees it coming over his shoulder, reaches out his hand, it hits his fingertips, and he is somehow able to corral the ball at around the 15 yard line, and take it in for the score. “Talk about a Hail, Mary”, said CBS play-by-play man Verne Lundquist after 37 seconds of nothing but crowd noise and video, telling the agony and ecstasy of both sides.

In his game story, USA Today writer Dan Wolken had some suggestions for naming that play. The Marshall Miracle (for Nick the quarterback), the Prayer at Jordan-Hare (the name of the stadium), the Hail Aubie (for Auburn, I guess), and the Saint Louis Arch (for receiver Ricardo). If this were a real contest and we got to vote, I'd take choice number two. How about the 'Marshall Plan B' or 'The Lucky Play that Saved the Day'? Call it whatever you want, but it's too cliché, a bit passé, and really not okay, to call it a miracle.

This ain't hoops: I still contend 30 years later that all Hakeem (he used the H then) Olajuwon had to do was jump, and Houston would have won the 1983 NCAA Basketball Championship instead of North Carolina State. If Harvey-Clemons didn't jump, Georgia would have beaten Auburn.

That's enough of that: A co-worker of mine (the same one that predicted the Dodgers' surge to the top of the NL West in June) for some reason is a big Philadelphia Eagles fan, and went with a buddy this weekend to Philly to watch the NFL game against Washington. Fox televised the game here, but switched to the Detroit-Pittsburgh game when the Eagles went up 24-0 early in the second half. Philadelphia did win, but the final score was 24-16.

Baseball bits: Okay, a quick check of the Dodgers website as I wrap this up, and I see they have released their promotional schedule, which, I kid you not, includes a Babe Ruth Bobblehead Day. Turns out the Sultan of Swat was the first-base coach for Brooklyn in 1938, the year after he retired from playing. You can get your Bambino bobble September 9 against San Diego...The Giants have signed pitcher Tim Hudson to a two-year deal reportedly worth 23 million dollars. The 38 year-old pitched six seasons for Oakland before moving to Atlanta.

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