Alabama avenged last year's loss to Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies, overcoming a slow start to win a 49-42 shootout in College Station.
The game received an unprecedented amount of build-up and hype—and even that may be putting it lightly—but it somehow lived up to (and exceeded) expectations, featuring an embarrassment of signature moments, plays and performances.
The result was an epic barrage of tweets and GIFs, as befits a game of this quality and magnitude that took place in the year 2013. Here's how it all went down:
As it did last year in Tuscaloosa, Texas A&M—led by Manziel and Mike Evans—started the game on fire, scoring two quick touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead.
On the first drive, Manziel led the Aggies 82 yards in seven plays. He helped them punch it in with a one-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Clear:
B/R's NFL Draft guru, Matt Miller, lauded Johnny Football for his improved poise in the pocket:
And ESPN Stats & Info. sent a stat that, in hindsight, looks a little funny:
Alabama punted on its next possession, giving the ball back to the Aggies, and Johnny Manziel orchestrated another impressive touchdown drive. This one was capped by a short Ben Malena touchdown run:
The praise continued pouring in on Manziel, whom CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel also noticed improvement from since last year:
After the touchdown, Manziel, as he's wont to do, had an interesting celebration, channeling his inner Colin Kaepernick and kissing his biceps:
But that swagger would be short-lived. Alabama rattled off 28 successive points to end the first half. The highlight was a 44-yard flea flicker toward the start of the second quarter, which leveled the score at 14 apiece:
The shootout was officially on—as noted by AP writer Ralph Russo, who implored defense-starved SEC fans to wait for a different game:
And Bill Connolly of SB Nation wondered why Alabama, who hadn't spent much time establishing the run, was able to complete the flea flicker with such ease:
After the flea flicker, Manziel tried to put A&M on his back and drive the team down the field. That possession included, perhaps, the most incredible (and lucky) play of Johnny Football's career, which saw him scramble out of trouble and heave an eventual completion into traffic:
B/R's Matt Miller said what everyone on Twitter was thinking:
And comedian Matt Goldich said what everyone on Twitter wishes they weren't (but might have been) thinking:
Later, when Alabama led 21-14, All-American candidate Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was flagged for college football's new targeting rule, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and (initially) resulting in his ejection from the game.
But because he actually made a legal hit, Twitter exploded with outrage over the decision:
The refs reviewed the play and decided to wave the ejection. Still, even though they admitted their mistake in throwing the flag, by rule they weren't allowed to give back the 15 yards.
Sports Illustrated's Andy Glockner pointed out the farce of that concept:
When running back T.J. Yeldon scored at the end of the first half, extending Alabama's lead to 28-14, he did Johnny Manziel's "show me the money" gesture then mimed slashing his throat, prompting a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct:
As one might imagine, Nick Saban was none too pleased:
Which prompted B/R's Ben Kercheval to give him a digital eulogy:
Texas A&M got what appeared to be a game-changing stop in the second half, forcing Alabama to go three-and-out on the first possession of the third quarter. But on the next drive, Manziel under-threw a pass down the seam that was batted in the air, picked off by Vinnie Sunseri, and returned in spectacular fashion for a touchdown:
Sardonically mocking how everyone freaked out about Manziel's "Heisman moment," Tuscaloosa News writer Cecil Hurt wondered if this would clinch Sunseri the award:
And CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb made an apropos comment on Manziel's whiffed tackle:
The teams traded blows for a while after that, and when the score was 42-28, Alabama drove down near the Texas A&M goal-line. A score would have put away the game, but Yeldon fumbled and gave the ball back to Texas A&M, prompting a predictable bit of commentary:
After the fumble recovery, Manziel hit Evans for your everyday, run-of-the-mill, 95-yard touchdown pass, channeling even more Johnny Football magic to pull A&M within seven points:
The play left a number of college football writers speechless:
Though Grantland writer Jay Caspian Kang was able to compose himself and make fun of the Tide's potential collapse:
Still, despite the momentum of a 95-yard play going against it, Alabama responded with a classic Crimson Tide drive, marching 65 yards (after an out-of-bounds kickoff) in nine plays for the game-clinching touchdown.
The drive ate 5:36 off the clock and salted away the game, prompting Matt Brown of Sports on Earth to describe it in frank (but perfect) terms:
Manziel would lead A&M to one more score, driving the Aggies 75 yards and throwing a short touchdown to Malcolm Kennedy.
By the time they scored, though, there was less than 30 seconds on the clock, and after Alabama recovered an onside kick, it was able to kneel away the game.
Crimson Tide 49. Aggies 42. Ball game. But regardless of who you were rooting for, and even if you were rooting for no one, this game was undeniably one for the ages:
Amen to that, Holly. Amen to that.
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