McCarron, who finished the season with 30 touchdown passes and only three interceptions in guiding the Crimson Tide to their second straight national title, played through significant pain following an Oct. 27 game against Mississippi State. He said he was injured on a sack and had to limit his throwing in practice thereafter.
"I had three ribs come out of place," McCarron told ESPN.com earlier this week. "They kept popping in and out of place, the one at the top, and it was just a nagging pain the whole time.
"I couldn't throw much during the week for a long time, really almost up to the bowl game. I was hurting really bad through the week, and it just took a long time for those ribs to heal."
The five-week layoff leading up to the Tide's 42-14 win over Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship Game allowed McCarron to move closer to 100 percent. He still ended up throwing nine touchdown passes in his last three games, including four against the Fighting Irish.
"When it first happened, I still tried to throw some so our timing wouldn't fall off that much in our passing game," McCarron said. "That's one of the things that kind of put a damper on our passing game a little. I was injured, and we had so many receivers injured, so it was hard to do a whole lot in practice. That kind of threw us off a little, but we still kept it going."
McCarron, who's 25-2 as a starter, did not miss any meaningful snaps because of the injury. He played one more play after getting hurt against Mississippi State and then sat out the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide were ahead 24-0 at the time and won 38-7.
"It's part of being a leader," McCarron said. "We had a lot of guys gutting it out at that point in the season. We all had our eyes on the same thing."