5 biggest plays of the SEC Championship
Big plays are essential in every football game, but their importance is taken to a much higher level in games like the SEC Championship.
This held true in the 2014 SEC Championship where big plays came in all three areas from Alabama and Missouri needed a couple of big passing plays to stay competitive against the Crimson Tide.
So here are the five biggest plays from the SEC Championship.
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5) JK Scott saves Alabama with heads-up punt
Normally, a punt isn’t on a top-five biggest plays list, but JK Scott is no ordinary punter. In the second quarter, Alabama is punting from its own 47-yard line when the snap to Scott barely gets off the ground.
Somehow Scott is able to pick the ball up off the ground and still gets of a punt inside Missouri’s 20-yard line before the Tigers can block the kick. It was close, too, with a number of Missouri defenders diving for Scott.
His punt kept Missouri’s offense from getting great starting field position as a blocked kick would have at least given the Tigers the ball around Alabama’s 40-yard line or perhaps even a return touchdown, which would have been crucial for Missouri who was down 21-10.
4) Fowler fumbles, but refs rule forward progress stopped
In order to beat the Tide, Missouri needed big plays on defense. And it looked like the Tigers finally got one when they forced a Jalston Fowler fumble and recovered it.
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However, the refs ruled forward progress had stopped on the 2-yard rush and the whistle came before the ball was knocked loose. Replays showed following the play that the ball came out way before a whistle was even blown, but Missouri was stuck because it couldn’t challenge a ruling of forward progress call.
Alabama escaped without a turnover and went on to score a touchdown on that drive, making it 21-3 in late in the second quarter.
3) Amari Cooper picks up 1st down in fourth quarter; late hit adds another 15 yards
As late as 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Missouri was still in this game. The Tigers had forced a 3rd-and-long with Alabama backed up in its own territory, down just 28-13.
But it was a pass to Amari Cooper near the far sideline that sealed the win for Alabama. The SEC’s leading receiver took the short pass and gained 17 yards, picking up a first down for the Tide. What made matters worse was the late hit on Cooper as he was going out of bounds, which tacked on another 15 yards.
Alabama’s 32-yard gain on that play put the Tide in comfortable field position and eventually scored another touchdown on that drive to go up 22 points.
2) Maty Mauk’s downfield heaves
Tough to pick just one of these passes, considering Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk had several throughout the game. In large part, Missouri’s offense was kept in check, but the Tigers got a few big shots of energy off of these huge passing plays.
What’s impressive with these plays is how Mauk makes it look so effortless, scrambling outside of the pocket and heaving the ball sometimes 60-plus yards right on target to a receiver streaking across the field. Mauk may not be consistent, but he’s got impressive arm strength.
Wide receiver Jimmie Hunt was the main beneficiary of these long pass plays as Mauk and Hunt connected for three passes of 32 yards or more. In fact, each of Missouri’s three scoring drives had one big pass play between Mauk and Hunt.
1) Blake Sims’ 58-yard TD pass to DeAndrew White; Shane Ray ejected
So much happened on this play that there was no way this couldn’t be the biggest play of the game. Not only does Blake Sims deliver his best pass of the night — a 58-yard bomb to White while hitting him in stride — Sims did so with pressure coming in the form of SEC sack leader Shane Ray, who unloaded a nasty hit on Sims after the pass.
Because Ray’s helmet knocked the bottom of Sims’ helmet on the tackle, Ray was subsequently ejected. So in one play, Alabama worked its way to an early 14-point lead and Missouri lost its best player for the rest of the game.
RELATED: Watch Shane Ray’s hit on Blake Sims