Auburn, Ala.--Auburn senior cornerback Patrick Lee hasn't been known to have sticky fingers this season with several drops of potential interceptions in 2007, but Saturday night the Miami native came through in the clutch with the biggest play of the game for the Tigers.
With Ole Miss driving for the potential game-winning touchdown, Lee was Johnny on the spot for the Auburn defense. Facing a second and eight at the Auburn 20-yard line, the Rebels ran a bootleg pass to take a shot at Lee. Fortunately for the Auburn defense, Lee was the only player near the ball on a fourth quarter throw by Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer. He says that made it both easy and tough to make the play.
"Don't drop this one," Lee says he was telling himself while the ball was floating his way. "I had to secure the ball real good. I secured the ball real good and it helped out the offense. I was real happy about that.
"As soon as I turned around I said ‘that's the ball and it's for me'," Lee adds. "I had to grab it. I tried to waste a little time to see if it was open, but I wasn't going to take off so I just took a knee. I wanted to run bad, but I had nothing."
With starting quarterback Seth Adams knocked out of the game, the Rebels turned to the former Tennessee Vol to get the job done and Schaeffer delivered for a moment as Ole Miss marched from its own 23 to Auburn's 20 under his guidance. Sensing if they remained calm Schaeffer would give them a chance to make a play, Lee says Auburn's defensive front did just that as they pressured Schaeffer into the mistake.
"We were in man coverage and I knew I just had to cover my man," Lee says. "He was running to the back of the end zone. I knew the d-line was going to get good pressure and he threw the ball up for grabs. The offense went down and scored after that.
"He panicked under pressure," Lee adds. "The wide receiver was running his route, but I had good coverage on him. He panicked and threw the ball."
The play gave the Tigers some much needed momentum as they took the ball leading by just a touchdown and drove it 80 yards in 3:52 for a touchdown that sealed the victory. The final numbers defensively look pretty impressive for the Tigers as Ole Miss finished with just three points and 193 yards of total offense. Lee says any time you put those kinds of numbers up in the SEC you've got to feel like it's a job well done.
"It's very good," Lee says. "It helps our offense. It gives them confidence. We keep giving them the ball and it builds up their confidence."