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Tennessee Fumbles Away Victory

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Pig Howard fumbles the ball through the end zone during overtime against Georgia. The Bulldogs escaped with a 34-31 win. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
Pig Howard fumbles the ball through the end zone during overtime against Georgia. The Bulldogs escaped with a 34-31 win. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

It's called the 24-hour rule.

Twenty-four hours to digest a heartbreaking defeat and/or encompass a huge win. Neyland Stadium was rocking for the first time in a while Saturday. The end outcome was more of a heartbreaking Tennessee defeat than a huge win for Georgia. The Volunteers nearly upset sixth-ranked Georgia. The Tennessee faithful left Neyland Stadium mourning a near victory instead of talking about the debut of the smokey gray uniforms.

Halftime adjustments, good play calling and good quarterback play were the key ingredients for Tennessee to nearly win in overtime. The Bulldogs survived. Mark Richt's team still can back into the national championship picture with the help of other teams losing, but that was nearly in the rear-view mirror with Tennessee's relentless second-half comeback.  

Pig Howard's overtime touchdown that was reversed and ruled a touchback essentially gave the Bulldogs a win and kept Georgia's national championship hopes alive.  

"I’m very proud of every individual in our football program. You saw a football team, undermanned, that laid it on the line. They made the plays to get it to that point. Learn how to finish. Proud to be their head football coach," Butch Jones told Football.com.  

Postgame Reaction

Jones on the makeup of the team:

"They bring it every day and you guys don’t see what I see. I see a coming together of a football team, a football program. This team has become closer than any team I’ve been a part of and they hurt, but we’re going to keep grinding."  

Jones on Howard's touchdown turned touchback:

“You know, he’s trying to make a play. Alton (Howard) gave us a spark today and he’s just trying to make a play.”  

Jones on Justin Worley and the offense:

“I thought Justin probably played his best game. He was poised. He made the plays. I thought our offensive line played well. Rajion Neal’s a warrior. He’s playing like we expect our seniors to play. He’s giving us everything he has. He’s been injured and he’s been a warrior. He’s added another spark to us.”  

Mark Richt on the win:

"I'm not really in the celebrating mood so much, just thankful to escape here with a victory considering what happened.”

Richt on Aaron Murray:

“I'm so proud of him. When you come back for your senior year after having a chance to go pro, you come back for games like this, you come back for your teammates, and you come back to try to win a championship. He's done everything he could do at this point. I'm really proud of him, he just played like a champion today.”  

Richt on the end of regulation:

“We had to move it down the field to score and quite frankly the touchdown throw, the play really called for a fade to the outside and he didn't like what he saw out there so he just jammed it in there, just stuck it in there. I didn't know where he was throwing it when he threw it, but I was glad that he saw what he saw and put it on him.”  

Justin Worley on the use of Pig Howard:

“I think it was a mixture of both the game plan and early success.  Pig’s a dynamic player, and you never know what’s going to happen when the ball’s in his hands.  I think we had some early success with him.  We also knew we wanted to get him the ball early in the game, and I think that’s why we just kept going back to him.”

Worley on talking to Pig after the game:

“I talked to him in the locker room.  He’s beating himself up right now, but we’re only halfway through the season.  He can’t let that affect anything else he’s doing because he’s played phenomenally for us in the past few weeks.  We always use the term ‘snap and clear,’ and there’s an example.”

Worley on the second-half adjustments:

"They threw the same looks at us. We made some adjustments at half time to game plan against them and frankly we went out there and executed them better than we did in the first half."