The game was played on December 2, 1972 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The 2nd-ranked and undefeated (10–0) Alabama team led by head coach Bear Bryant came into the game as a 14-point favorite over the Ralph Jordan-coached Tigers, who entered the game with a record of 8–1. For the first three and a half quarters the Tide seemed to have the game well in hand.
Alabama led 16–0 with ten minutes left in the game. With less than 10 minutes left, an Auburn drive stalled and managed only a field goal, which made it 16–3. Jordan later joked that his decision was derided by all the faithful in attendance: Auburn fans booed for the appearance of giving up, while Alabama fans joined in because the field goal ruined the point spread. On the ensuing possession Alabama was forced to punt. Auburn's Bill Newton blocked Greg Gantt's punt and his teammate David Langner ran the ball back 25 yards for an Auburn touchdown, narrowing the score to 16–10. Several minutes later, Alabama was forced to punt again and once again Newton blocked the punt and Langner again returned it for a touchdown. Gardner Jett kicked the extra point to give Auburn a 17–16 lead.
With the clock winding down, Auburn's David Langner intercepted an Alabama pass to stop their attempted comeback. When Langner reached the sideline, he found Coach Jordan upset. Langner reportedly said, "But, coach, I intercepted the pass," to which Coach Jordan said, "Yeah, but our plan was to make them punt."
In June 2007, Punt Bama Punt was ranked #55 by ESPN.com in its list of the 100 defining moments of college football. In July 2007, CollegeFootballNews.com ranked the game #85 on its list of the 100 Greatest Finishes. In August 2010, ESPN.com ranked the game as the 8th most painful outcome in college history.
Gary Sanders was the radio play-by-play announcer for Auburn football in the early 1970s, and his call of the blocked punts, particularly the last one, is familiar to many Auburn fans and has been available on several audio tapes and CD's sold in Auburn University bookstores through the years. The call of the first blocked punt was rather subdued, possibly because Alabama had dominated the game to that point. The call went as follows:
Greg Gantt is in to punt, Johnny Simmons is going back as a single safety, Mitchell and Langner on the...uh...line of scrimmage coming from either side to try to block the kick. Auburn trying to go after it, here's the snap, they got it! Blocked kick! Ball's back to the 25, picked up on the bounce at the 25-yard-line, and in for a touchdown is David Langner!
The call of the second blocked punt is heard more often, and was delivered with much more enthusiasm from Sanders. Additionally, others in the broadcast booth and press box can be heard screaming and yelling over Sanders call. Sanders, possibly due to being caught up in the moment, identified Roger Mitchell as the player who blocked the kick, when Bill Newton (who had also blocked the first one) actually blocked it:
Greg Gantt standing on his own 30, Auburn will try to block it. Auburn going after it, here's the good snap...it is blocked!!! It is blocked!!! It's caught on the run!!! It's caught on the run and he's gonna score!!! David Langner!!! David Langner has scored and Auburn has tied the game!!! Roger Mitchell blocked the kick! Roger Mitchell blocked the kick! And it's 16 to 16!