Mark your turning-point close for roughly 4:15 p.m., Sept. 17, 2016. The game clock in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium said 2:47 second quarter.
That was the moment when Alabama trailed Ole Miss by three touchdowns Saturday.
That was the moment when Alabama seemed well on its way to a third consecutive loss to the Rebels, and it seemed to break a tie between the Crimson Tide’s romp over Southern Cal in the season-opener and butt-chewin’ effort against Western Kentucky a week prior to Saturday.
It also took on the feel of that moment we’ve come to know from nine other Nick Saban-coached Alabama teams.
What happened after that sure made 9/17/2016, 4:15 p.m. and 2:47 second quarter feel a lot like that moment that another Saban team with championship talent made the turn to becoming the team it can be.
The Tide wound up overcoming a 21-point deficit for the second time in its history with 24 unanswered points en route to a 48-43 victory at Ole Miss.
The Tide wound up tying the biggest deficit overcome in its history (Ole Miss in 1989), and it sure looked like one of those statement moments that seem to come about this time most seasons in the Saban years.
An Alabama team doesn’t look its best (remember Arkansas, circa 2014?), and panic mongers will find plenty not to like about the Tide’s performance Saturday. Chad Kelly put up and ugly number on Alabama’s defense with 421 passing yards.
Then again, Alabama’s defense scored twice. One defensive touchdown helped Alabama make up that 24-3 deficit that flashed on the scoreboard at 2:47 of the second quarter, after Ole Miss’ John Youngblood returned a Jalen Hurts fumble for a touchdown.
What happened next happened in quick succession and looked like statement football from a team ready to make a statement.
Alabama went bang-bang-bang for a 3-play touchdown drive.
Eddie Jackson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown, which brought the Tide within 24-17 at halftime.
Come 11:47 of the third, Da’Ron Payne stretched his meaty left arm and the football over the goal line after scooping up a Kelly fumble.
Three touchdowns. Six game minutes. Tie game.
In another five-and-a-half minutes, Adam Griffith added a field goal for Alabama’s first lead, and the Tide never again trailed.
Ole Miss challenged plenty, but this was statement football. Alabama responded each time and put up its own ugly number — 334 yards rushing against a worn out Ole Miss defense.
From 2:47 of the second quarter on, Alabama outscored Ole Miss 45-19, scoring on offense, defense and special teams.
This Alabama team didn’t want a third consecutive loss to Ole Miss.
This Alabama team didn’t want to lose to Ole Miss to learn the hard way, like it did in 2015.
Falling behind 24-3 and staring into that abyss was enough for this bunch.
No, it wasn’t dominating football. It wasn’t a statement that started at 15:00 of the first quarter, roughly 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2016.
But it was a statement, and it came in time to keep top-ranked Alabama unbeaten through one of the toughest challenges remaining on its schedule.
We’ve seen this moment in recent years. We saw it Saturday, assuming Alabama goes on to validate it.
Joe Medley is a columnist for the Anniston Star. You can write to him at email@example.com.