Tide abandons run when it needed it most

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama knocked on the door against Texas A&M, a chance at keeping its title hopes alive awaiting on the other side. All the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide needed to do was run the final 6 yards to the end zone, stave off the upset and live to fight on.

Instead, Alabama threw it away. The Crimson Tide had four plays to score a game-winning touchdown, but chose to run the ball only once. On fourth down from the 2-yard line, AJ McCarron forced a pass and was intercepted. Texas A&M took the gift and ran out the clock for the upset, taking out Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama's identity disappeared in the silence that wrapped Bryant-Denny Stadium in defeat. The usually strong-willed, overpowering Crimson Tide lost its purpose. The offensive line, regarded as the best in the country, stopped being the undertow that drowns defenses. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon stopped being the dynamic rushing combination that slowly chips away at opponents' will. Coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier stopped using their greatest weapon when the game was on the line.

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