ATLANTA -- Blake Sims' 2014 season at Alabama began in Atlanta against West Virginia with many fans wondering if the senior would hold the starting job for the Crimson Tide. It finished on the 50-yard line of the Georgia Dome with Sims holding the SEC Championship Game Most Valuable Player trophy.
The Gainesville, Ga., native finished the game 23-of-27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns in his home state as the Crimson Tide defeated Missouri, 42-13.
"It's a great feeling," Sims said. "I was playing for everybody down the road in Gainesville and just going out and playing and doing everything that Coach Saban and Coach (Lane) Kifin have taught me and trust my players that they're going to play their hearts out and leave everything on the field." The opening Alabama drive would provide a preview of what was to come. Sims directed the Crimson Tide offense with surgical precision, hitting all five passes on the drive for 39 yards, including a 10-yard pass to Amari Cooper to set up Alabama first-and-goal at the 4. T.J. Yeldon finished off the scoring drive two plays later with a 1-yard run.
Sims' completion percentage of 85.2 percent shattered the previous SEC Championship Game record of 77.1 percent held by Jason Campbell of Auburn, who was 27-of-35 in 2004.
He started the game 9-for-9, tying the SEC Championship Game record for consecutive completions, held by a pair of Florida players, Shane Matthews in 1992 and Danny Wuerffel in 1995.
"I want to give all the credit to the linemen and the running backs and the receivers," Sims said. "They worked hard and they gave me time to make good adjustments and good calls. I'm just happy for this team because they worked very hard."
His first touchdown came on the most efficient of scoring drives. After an interference penalty on a Missouri punt set up the Crimson Tide at its own 42, Sims needed just one play to extend the lead. Sims faked a hand-off to Tyren Jones before rolling out to his right to find DeAndrew White streaking past a pair of defenders for a 58-yard score.
Late in the third quarter, the Tigers had drawn within eight points at 21-13 and seemed to have seized the momentum in the game. Alabama turned to Sims and he delivered again, both with his arm and with his feet. Facing third-and-two at the UA 44 after a pair of short completions, Sims burst up the middle on a designed keeper for a 6-yard game to keep the drive alive.
He then kept the offense moving with a pair of 17-yard completions Christion Jones sandwiched around two Derrick Henry carries to put the Tide at the 1. A false start penalty moved the offense back for the opening play of the fourth quarter, just adding five yards to the TD pass Sims would throw to Jones for his third catch of the drive and a 28-13 Alabama lead.
"We just went out there and tried to play," Sims said of responding to the Tiger surge. "The offensive line put their head down and moved the line of scrimmage, just like the coaches told us. We didn't want to look back, we were just looking forward every time."
Sims did not finish the game, as Saban pulled him from the game after the first play of Alabama's final drive, allowing the Alabama faithful to show its appreciation for the senior quarterback.
"I don't know that I've ever seen a player go through any more than what Blake has over four years as a player, and never once did he ever not do what we needed him to do to help the team," Saban said. "As a coach, you love to see guys that go through what he's been through, always persevered, then have success."