When asked when he knew Auburn had Alabama beat, Tray Matthews gave the answer he thought he had to say.
But he quickly corrected himself, with a laugh, and said "I mean, third quarter."
"I don't want to be arrogant or anything like that," Matthews said. "We kind of knew we had them around the third quarter; (could) see it in their eyes. We were playing fast and physical. This was our home and we don't really lose in Jordan-Hare that much."
You can pick a number of different moments where it looked like Alabama was finished before the game officially ended. When the Crimson Tide has faced deficits this season, there was always a quick response. Even when down to Mississippi State two weeks ago, there was never a sense of panic - Jalen Hurts looked comfortable in guiding Alabama to the comeback road victory.
That didn't seem to be the case Saturday. Throughout the game, but especially late, Alabama looked disjointed on both sides of the ball. The defense kept getting gashed, whether it was Jarrett Stidham runs right up the gut or capitalizing on perimeter deficiencies. It made unusual errors, too, including an offside penalty on an Auburn punt that should have given the ball back to Alabama.
"Some guys get tired from the physical part of it," Auburn fullback Chandler Cox said. "We just got and hit them in the mouth. This is Auburn, this is what we do here."
Cox said he noticed Auburn had them in the fourth quarter but knew not to let up off the gas. Auburn felt it had to add at least one more touchdown to its lead to feel comfortable about knocking off the top-ranked Crimson Tide. A one-touchdown lead wasn't enough the other few times Alabama fell behind this season as it entered the Iron Bowl with a perfect 11-0 record.
"We've seen games where they came back especially against Mississippi State," Auburn safety Carlton Davis said, "so we knew we'd have to be on our 'Ps and Qs' until the clock hit 0.00."
When Stidham strode through Alabama's defense for a 16-yard touchdown to put Auburn up 26-14 in the fourth quarter, the Tigers knew they had it.
"That last touchdown we scored," Cox said, "that kind of did it right there."
Alabama had no answer for that touchdown. Instead, the Crimson Tide suffered error after error in its inability to get the offense going. There was the botched Bradley Bozeman snap on third-and-four at Auburn's 33-yard line. Alabama couldn't capitalize on two tries at fourth down after a controversial penalty. Hurts looked lost late in the game and even his terrific running ability couldn't bail him out.
Alabama is typically the team that knows when its opponent is weak and willingly steps on its throat. But in a memorable Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare, Alabama served as the unlikely recepient of its own method.
John Talty is the college sports editor for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JTalty....Read more