Seldom are there times when you are asked “Where were you when this happened”?
The question is typically reserved for the biggest stories or release of information that sticks with someone for the rest of time.
One of those moments came three years ago and has morphed into somewhat of a holiday for Alabama fans at the end of every February.
I am of course referring to the legendary 2nd and 26.
Today is Tua to Smitty Day aka 2nd and 26. Arguably the greatest play in Alabama football history. pic.twitter.com/VbFmGu1n9t
— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) February 26, 2021
For what feels like a wonderful memory for Alabama fans and a never-ending nightmare for Georgia’s, the relevance of the play is still yet to lose its potency. But for those who may be new to the significance of the game and moment, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.
At the beginning of the game, the offense was playing less than adequate as the second-year starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, who led the team to its second national championship in a row was struggling. By halftime, the outcome was seeming to resemble that of last season’s which ended in a heartbreaking loss to rival Clemson.
With a score of 13-0 favoring the Bulldogs, head coach Nick Saban pulled what would be one of the defining moves in the history of Alabama football. He benched his starting quarterback who had a record 0f 26-2 in favor of a true freshman.
Right when Tagovailoa entered the game, the passing game opened up for the Crimson Tide as the young lefty was fearless in his evaluation of the defense. With his fearlessness came mistakes, such as an early interception. But Tagovailoa brought a calmness to the team, much like the comfort of putting an arm around someone to ease the tension which he did to Saban.
He was able to lead the Tide back to tie the ballgame and force overtime in the grand finale of the season.
A Georgia field goal put them up which gave Alabama the opportunity to win the game with a touchdown.
But once again, the youth of Tagovailoa showed in the big moment as he scrambled backward and took an unnecessary 16-yard sack on the first play of the drive.
Saban was fuming on the sidelines.
Although Tagovailoa was a mere freshman, the 101 course in Nick Saban’s school of quarterbacking is to eliminate needless negative plays altogether. The sack Tagovailoa took was a prime example of what not to do in that situation.
But just as quick as Saban and Crimson Tide fans displayed their yells of anger, they released their cheers of joy as Tagovailoa floated a pass down the left sidelines to a little freshman receiver DeVonta Smith (who went on to have a decent career afterward) for what is arguably the greatest play in Alabama history.
From then on a legend was born, a GOAT was cemented and a new Alabama holiday was created.
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77