ATLANTA – In the 2012 SEC Championship Game, Alabama had to rally and hold on in the fourth quarter to escape with a win.

In the same game under a similar scenario two years later, it slammed the door.

After Missouri turned an early Alabama lead into a one-score game entering the start of the fourth quarter, the top-ranked Crimson Tide scored 21 unanswered to beat No. 16 Missouri, 42-13, and secure a place in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

“I can't tell you how proud I am of this team,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I don't know if I've ever been so anxious to win a game for a group of guys.”

With an Alabama-heavy crowd on hand at the Georgia Dome, the Crimson Tide raced out to a 21-3 lead at the half before the SEC East champion Tigers began to threaten.

Missouri scored all 10 points of the third quarter when quarterback Maty Mauk found a rhythm for the first time all game. Mauk completed two long passes of 63 and 47 yards to Jimmie Hunt to set up both scores in the quarter and cut the lead to 21-13.

Then, Alabama went to work.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Blake Sims threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Christion Jones to make it 28-13 in the Crimson Tide’s favor.

When Missouri’s offense began to stall beginning on the following drive, Derrick Henry took over. The sophomore running back tallied 87 of his game-high 141 yards and two scores on just five carries in the final 15 minutes.

“We had cut it to one score, and then they take it, go 65 yards and answer," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “Then they hold us, we punt them down to the 10-yard line and they go 90 yards and score.

“Those were two statement drives by them. That's what great teams do.”

Still it was Blake Sims who led the way for Alabama. After years as a backup at more positions than just quarterback, Sims, now a fifth-year senior, was the standout. He earned game honors after completing 23-of-27 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns, breaking SEC Championship records for completion percentage (85.2 percent) and consecutive completions (10-for-10) along the way.

During the first half, Sims threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open DeAndrew White to break AJ McCarron’s school record for passing yards in a season set last season.

“I don't know if I've ever seen a player go through any more than what Blake went through for four years a player,” Saban said. “I've never seen a guy work so hard.”

White caught four passes for 101 yards and a score. Amari Cooper, who led the Crimson Tide in receiving in nearly every other game this season, finished with 12 catches for 83 yards. Cooper set the SEC Championship receptions record, breaking the SEC single-season record along the way.

Alabama outgained Missouri 504-313 in total yards offensively. The Tigers managed only 41 yards rushing on 23 carries and picked up just 10 first downs.