The Catch was the topic of conversation wherever football was talked Saturday night and into Sunday evening. Tyrone Prothro's remarkable catch of a 42-yard pass to the Southern Miss one-yard line in the waning moments of the first half was the ESPN Play of the Day. Prothro was named the Offensive Player of the Game for Alabama. And he was also named the Special Teams Player of the Game. (End Mark Anderson was the Defensive Player of the Game.)
Everyone has seen the play, Prothro grabbing the ball behind the back of safety Jasper Faulk. Although Prothro tumbled into the end zone, his knee hit about the one-yard line. Bama was able to get the touchdown just before halftime, closing the Southern Miss advantage to only 21-17 at intermission.
By Sunday afternoon, almost every college football fan and thousands of others had seen The Catch numerous times. Among the exceptions were the principals, Prothro who caught it and quarterback Brodie Croyle who threw it.
"I saw it one time late last night," Prothro said. "But I've heard plenty about it. I guess I was like everyone else who saw it. I said, ‘How did I do that?' "
Croyle had not seen television, but he had seen it on the coaching videotape just before meeting with sportswriters Sunday afternoon. "It took a perfect pass to put it on the safety's back," Croyle joked. He was serious when he said, "It's the greatest catch I've ever seen."
Anthony Madison, Alabama's senior left cornerback, had a different perspective. "Great receivers are going to make catches," Madison said. "I still think about Gipson (Georgia wide receiver Fred Gipson in 2002) catching a touchdown pass on me when the ball was thrown behind him and he was falling down."
Madison added, "I'm glad Prothro made one better than the one that was made on me. Prothro's was hands down the best catch I've ever seen."
Prothro said, "It was one of my better games." It was, in truth, a career game. The junior flanker had seven catches for 134 yards and two rushes for 14 yards. Throw in his four punt returns for 31 yards and two kickoff returns for 97 yards and he had total yardage of 279.
On the first play of the game, Croyle hit Prothro on a 52-yard pass completion, leading to a 26-yard touchdown pass to Hall. "It was good to have a start like that," Prothro said. "To beat an All-American cornerback like that says a lot about our receivers."
"We saw how the safeties were coming up into the box and thought a receiver had a chance to have a big game," Prothro said. "Fortunately, both D.J. (D.J. Hall) and I did." Hall also had career highs of five receptions for 130 yards. It was only the third time in history two Tide receivers had over 100 yards in the same game.
They were a big part of the reason Croyle had a career high 330 yards passing on 21 completions in 37 attempts.
Prothro recalled The Catch Sunday. "They were in a two deep and I was pretty sure Brodie would be coming to me. I knew I had to beat my guy and when the ball was in the air I knew I had to make the catch. I had complete concentration."
"The defender was in my hip pocket," he said. "They called interference on him. I couldn't see the ball when it went behind him. I just reached around him and the ball hit in my hands. I never caught a ball like that before. I squeezed it as hard as I could because I knew he was going to try to knock it loose."
Prothro said, "I didn't feel my knee hit the ground and I know my neck got all twisted, but I didn't feel that either. I guess it was the adrenaline."
The play was reviewed, but not to determine if it was a catch. It was determined that Prothro's knee had touched the ground at the one-yard line, so it was not a touchdown as first signaled.
"I wasn't worried about us getting in," Prothro said. "Brodie made a great call on the pass to LéRon (McClain) out of our jumbo package."
Prothro said, "I think the touchdown gave us a lot of momentum for the second half. Everyone was pumped up, but we knew we needed to come out and play the second half."
Croyle thought that the half had ended on the play. "I thought it was either a touchdown or an interception," he said. "I thought the half had ended and started for the dressing room. They had to run me down and bring me back."
This week Alabama goes to Columbia to take on South Carolina and Coach Steve Spurrier. Kickoff Saturday is at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) with television coverage by CBS.
"Coach Spurrier is a great coach and will have his team ready to play," Prothro said. "We need to come out and play our game. I think I speak for the whole team when I say we're a real good team right now, but we're not where we want to be. Anytime you play an SEC team, you've got to bring your A game."
Croyle thought of another angle. "We'll finally have some video of our opponent to look at," he said. Alabama was the first opponent for its first two opponents, MTSU and Southern Miss, and so had no videotape exchange. South Carolina has played twice.