Alabama vs. Texas A&M: Grading Johnny Manziel's Performance in Loss to Tide

Randy ChambersAnalyst ISeptember 14, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 14:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies looks to throw in the first quarter during a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

If you were hoping for the highlights and unbelievable plays from Johnny Manziel in the Aggies 49-42 loss to Alabama, you were satisfied. Unfortunately for Texas A&M fans, the reigning Heisman winner also provided several questionable plays that cost his team any chance of winning the most anticipated game of the season.

Overall, Manziel provided a mixed bag of goodies in this high-scoring affair.

He finished the game with 464 passing yards, 98 rushing yards and five touchdowns. His passing yards total broke his own school record. He was absolutely spectacular for majority of the game, often making Alabama's defense look foolish like he did in last year's upset.

In fact, Chris B. Brown of Smart Football thinks head coach Nick Saban had little faith in his defense:

Manziel was able to pass when he wanted, did a marvelous job of eluding defenders and gashed the defense at times with his legs. He put together incredible scoring drives, helped the Aggies convert five of eight third down attempts and made the game interesting when most believed the Crimson Tide ran away with the score.

The redshirt sophomore proved that last year was no fluke and his sandlot style of play can in fact still work against arguably the most talented defense in the country.

However, Manziel made many careless passes that resulted in two interceptions. One was a fade route in the corner of the end zone that was intercepted by Cyrus Jones. The Aggies were at Alabama's four-yard line and the game was tied at 14. This overthrown pass and poor decision removed any hope of points early in the second quarter.

The other turnover came on the first drive of the third quarter when Manziel forced the pass into heavy coverage. After the ball bouncing around a few times, safety Vinnie Sunseri came away with the interception and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. This gave Alabama a 21-point lead and really put the Aggies in a tough spot for the rest of the game.

Those passes don't even include the poor decision in the second quarter when Manziel somehow avoided a sack and threw the ball up for grabs. Some call it a Heisman moment because it was completed, but it was a dangerous pass that should have been intercepted. It was a case of Johnny Football trying to do too much.

Manziel did a lot of wonderful things, and his performance even has Peter King of Sports Illustrated convinced:

However, we can't ignore the two turnovers, including one that was returned for a score. When you consider Alabama won by a touchdown, it could be argued that those plays made the difference in the game. 

Still, without Manziel, Texas A&M would have had no chance in this game. Even with questionable decisions and the turnovers, Manziel gave the Aggies a chance until the very end and was able to pull plays out of his back pocket when everybody thought the game was over. It was the defense that couldn't get stops when it counted that put the offense behind the eight ball.

Manziel wasn't completely flawless today, but he did produce highlight reel plays and singlehandedly (with help from Mike Evans) kept his team in the game. Despite the loss, his quest for a second straight Heisman is alive and well.

Grade: A-