A conservative approach would have been easily justified.
Tennessee had been hit with a costly holding penalty on its overtime drive.
Vols coach Lane Kiffin didn't have a proven kicker to turn to, and with a passing game that hadn't been all that productive, playing it safe and heading to a second extra period would have been understandable.
Instead, he backed up the confidence he's claimed to have in Jonathan Crompton all along by turning him loose with the game on the line, and the much-maligned quarterback delivered a storybook finish. The senior might not have produced as many great chapters as expected in his career, but the last one was unforgettable in UT's 30-24 nail-biting win over Kentucky on Saturday.
"He did a great job, and you're going to go back I think when you watch this game, you're going to point to that last throw of his regular-season career as a Tennessee Volunteer," Kiffin said. "The linebacker is going to come off, (the receiver) is going to be right there and usually the ball is thrown a little bit more to the left because Gerald (Jones) is coming out the back door on the play-fake. He's got to throw it early, he makes a great throw and Gerald makes a great play there.
"Those are big-time clutch plays. You talk about special quarterbacks make plays in fourth quarters - overtimes, obviously - and third downs."
Perhaps the most memorable of Crompton's career actually came on a second down, but if the Vols (7-5, 4-4 SEC) were going to put away the Wildcats in the first overtime, a positive play on second-and-19 from the 34 was an absolute necessity.
Crompton faked a handoff, found Jones dragging across the middle and put the ball where only Jones could catch it and picked up 14 critical yards. Montario Hardesty scored on the next play, and Crompton had both his signature win and completion to complete his stunning second-half turnaround.
"I'm excited about the way that we finished. I loved the style that the tailback finished in, and Jonathan made the big-time play to Gerald on the play before that," Kiffin said. "It was really a saver at that point because we're in real deep field-goal range, low on field-goal kickers, and we're probably not going to be able to kick at that point.
"Those are the plays that big-time quarterbacks make. I've said it before. I think he's playing as well as anybody in the conference."
Certainly down the stretch he made his case, overcoming a disastrous start to the season to lead the Vols to what should be a prestigious bowl game, likely the Outback.
There have been hiccups along the way though, including an early interception against the Wildcats that was returned for a touchdown to put UT in a hole. But rather than fold or struggle to regain his confidence like might have happened in the past, Crompton instantly moved on with a bullet to Jones on his next pass and methodically chipped away at Kentucky until he found the same receiver again when it mattered most.
"If something bad happens early, we've just got to shrug it off and keep playing," Crompton said. "That's the mentality of our team, and I think our coaches have done a tremendous job emphasizing that to us.
"Obviously you never want that to happen, but if it happens on the first drive, that's better than on the last drive. We understand that, and we came back and battled through it."
It took longer than UT might have liked against the Wildcats, and the development process for Crompton might have taken a bit more time as well. But they were both tied together neatly with one last aggressive pass.