As the final days of 2012 wind down and we inch closer and closer to Notre Dame’s showdown with Alabama for the BCS Championship, today we look back at the plays that defined Notre Dame’s improbable run to Miami.
12. Stephon Tuitt’s fumble return against Navy
Notre Dame’s season opening win over Navy in Dublin might have lacked the drama that characterized some of Notre Dame’s victories later in the season, but it also had its fair share of highlights and the one play that stands out from this one was Stephon Tuitt’s 77 yard fumble return. Notre Dame was in clear control of the game and would have won the game whether or not Ishaq Williams jarred the ball loose with Tuitt scooping it up off the turf and rumbling down the field for a score, but the play set the tone for the season – Notre Dame had a defense that was going to make plays.
Notre Dame had lacked a big play defense for years, but Tuitt’s highlight worthy play was the first real indicator that Notre Dame had some players on defense this year. Not only did it show that Notre Dame had playmakers on defense – it showed Notre Dame had playmakers up front where the Irish lacked such ability since Justin Tuck wore the blue and gold. Tuitt is a big man. A man much too big to be able to run down the field as fast as he did back in September, so when he did it raised some eyebrows.