There is one simple proverb that you will find on any football practice field; you play till the whistle blows. You keep hustling and you keep hitting till one of those refs puffs on that little piece of metal.
It’s that simple.
Apparently the Oregon Ducks defenders didn’t get this memo because with the game tied and the clock ticking down very late in the fourth, they assumed they tackled Auburn’s Michael Dyer for a seven yard gain. Only problem was the whistle didn’t blow because he was never down, and after a brief second where even he thought the play was over, he scampered an additional 30 yards to basically set up the Tigers for their first National Championship since 1957.
"It hurts, you know," Eddie Pleasant, the Oregon defensive back who didn’t complete the tackle said. "It’s not like he broke free and did some spectacular things. He was tackled. Everybody on the side of the defense stopped. He stopped and the coach told him to keep running and he ran. It’s not like it was a blown assignment. It’s not like he busted a 50-yard run down the middle. It was just a crazy play."
Thing was, though, he wasn’t tackled.
"Really, it was going through my mind to get the first down, hold onto the ball," Dyer said. "And the time being tackled, my knee wasn’t down … I didn’t hear a whistle, not yet, so I was kind of, like, looking, like, what’s going on?"
This one game defining play was enough to get Auburn the win, Dyer the Offensive Player of the Game, and enough to kill am awesome comeback by the Ducks. Oregon, trailing by 8, saw Cam Newton leading the Tigers down the field for the game clinching score before Casey Matthews stripped Newton, allowing Oregon to recover and breath one last spark of life into their title hopes.
Plagued by offensive inefficiency all night, the Ducks managed to move the 45 yards it needed to score the touchdown. A made two-point conversion later and the game was tied. Then ‘The Run’ happened, a field goal was made by Auburn and that’s all she wrote. Though don’t feel sorry for the Ducks because they don’t.
"When it comes down to a field goal at the last second, you can always point to play here, a play there, but it really doesn’t do much for you," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "We’re a forward-thinking operation, and we’ll learn from this thing and move forward."
The win by Auburn gives the SEC their fifth straight National Championship and brings their overall championship game record to 7-0. It also cements them as one of the elite in the highly touted SEC.
"Winning a championship for the Auburn family, I can’t really describe it right now," Chizik said. "To try would probably cheapen it."