Yes, I just steal photos from ArenaFootball.com. What of it? I have a point to make.
Of course, when I’m ready to rant about how ESPN’s grand commitment to the league seems to have fallen off somewhat since the heady days of Mike, Mike, Trey, Jaws, et al. (Were those salad days merely one year ago? How young we once were!), they go ahead and announce that Mike Hohensee and other members of the Rush are going to do a Sportscenter commercial. That doesn’t necessarily take the sting out of the fact that it occasionally appears that certain games are played in poorly-lit caverns with cameras stolen from remote broadcasts of the 1980s. Occasionally, you expect to see Dan Rather show up in a Muhajadeen outfit and explain how badly the Afghans have it against the Red Army. ANYWAY. There’s that. On to what happened over the weekend.
Chicago 51, TAMPA BAY 46
For all but the fourth quarter, this game was as close as the score would indicate. Tied at the half, back-and-forth through most of the third quarter, the Storm and Rush played a tough, reasonably defensive game that began to turn on a fumbled kickoff by the Storm’s Sedrick Robinson, and then was solidified when, the Chicago defense was able to hold Tampa Bay to a field goal after a late Storm interception of Russ Michna. I’m beginning to come around on this Michna fellow – he’s 5-0 and ran the play-fake-naked-bootleg in the 4th quarter for a touchdown, and that’s the sort of chicanery I personally enjoy. Brett Dietz, after leading a gritty win against Orlando last week managed to keep the Storm in the game, but – as has been the discouraging refrain this season – wasn’t able to get the victory. If we’re starting the playoff watch this week, Tampa’s probably a bit nervous at 3-6, while Chicago’s putting some significant space between themselves and the defending champion Sabercats.
More, after this word from our imaginary sponsor:
Dallas 48, COLUMBUS 45
Feel free to file this game under “W” for “Wait, this game was close? Why?” Dr. Dolezel apparently got comfy in his polo shirt and headset, as he almost managed to quarterback the Desperados to their first two-game losing streak since before he arrived on the scene wreathed in fire, heraldic trumpets proclaiming his glory. Dolezeldid become the all-time leader in yards passing, which would’ve prompted a cheerier celebration (and his own hyperbolic post) if he hadn’t stunk up the joint last week (4 picks), and contracted a little fumbleitis this week. True, Dallas rallied behind his eventually steady hand, but do keep in mind that Columbus – two and seven Columbus – had a chance to tie the game with a field goal as time expired, but Mark Lewis’ effort ricocheted off the post. Peter Martinez, where have you gone? Dallas is still fighting with Philadelphia for the top spot in the division and conference, while Columbus busies themselves with writhing in institutional agony at the bottom of same.
UTAH 67, Kansas City 50
Peter Martinez, you are in Kansas City! And you kicked a 58-yard field goal? Where do you have to stand for something like that? Do you have to leap off the back dasher? I don’t even call my kicker out in Madden for a 58-yarder. Was this a mistake? Was he trying to do the AFL’s version of a punt? Oh, yeah, the Blaze finally won a shootout. Coach/GM Danny White will cheerfully accept all of your credit. What’s odd is that Kansas City’s pass D is statistically one of the better units in the AFL (someone said that somewhere), but that just goes to show… something. I don’t know. Bothof these teams make me want to die a little. But: 58-yards! Tiny uprights! (P.S. Both of these teams likely don’t have to worry about the playoffs.)
LOS ANGELES 66, Arizona 59
The Avengers remain an impossible team to get a reasonable analytical grip on. Tim Hicks’ best move all day was remaining in the pocket while getting sacked by Arizona DB Aric Williams, which apparently is a no-no. Fumble and touchdown overturned, and Los Angeles scores on the salvaged possession. Meanwhile, neither team is more than a game out of the Western Division lead, while being 4-5 and 4-6. Mediocrity, sponsored by Mitsubishi.
COLORADO 63, Grand Rapids 28
Well, this was a beatdown. Grand Rapids secretly lobotomized their offensive line, allowing James MacPherson, Hope of Certain Parts of Michigan, to get sacked approximately one billion times, fumbling on a number of occasions, and generally had his brains blended like a margarita I didn’t have yesterday. This is the same Grand Rapids team that managed to almost break 100 a few weeks ago, right? They weren’t replaced by a rec league team, or my grandmother’s church group, I assume. Colorado, spastically though they’ve played, is stll very much alive for the playoffs, and Grand Rapids is too, I guess, but only because Utah and Kansas City are looking up through the sewer grates subsisting on runoff from the surface world.
GEORGIA 66, New Orleans 39
Oh, phooey. Just when the New Orleans bandwagon was getting exciting, they have to go and stink up the Gwinnett Center. The VooDoo’s usual game plan: cause turnovers, score enough points to win behind Hometown Hero and New York Times Darling Danny Wimprine (22/44, 297 yards, 5TDs, 2INTs). Apparently, they decided to not do that. No fumbles, no interceptions. Chris Griesen can be referred to as “Scrappy” again. Huzzah. It was Georgia’s first division victory all season, and it means that the wholeplace is still relatively up for grabs. New Orleans, at 7-3, is tied for first withOrlando, and if they keep their act together, they have the potential to surprise somebody in the playoffs. Georgia looks to sneak in, but is basically in the heap of 500-ish teams that could collapse to let in a spotty Tampa Bay team or a pretty bad Columbus team. (See Also: New York.)
ORLANDO 61, San Jose 35
Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Orlando Predators, looking like the Predators of yore, beating the ever-loving life out of reportedly good teams. Perhaps their humbling at the hands of their rivals last week was the re-wake-up call they needed, because, dear God, it wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. 2 interceptions from Kenny “The Glove” McEntyre, arguably the best DB in the history of all organized sports, were returned for touchdowns, and they capitalized on a couple of fumbles as well. T.T. Tolliver(and his attitude) continues to rack up yardage at a frightening pace, and basically, that’s enough for the carousel that is Orlando. Orlando’s sitting with New Orleans at the top of the division, and defending champion San Jose’s going to be all right because their entire division doesn’t seem to want to win too many football games, lest they seem greedy.
CLEVELAND 67, Philadelphia 55
In the interest of escaping from this Weekend in Review before we’re all old and gray, I’m going to go ahead and say that we covered this pretty clearly in yesterday’s post. And the post-post analysis seems pretty reasonable, too. Sucks to play a physical game 72 hours after playing a physical game that the league had been hyping. Come out flat, get exhausted by the 4th quarter, everybody’s right! Huzzah! It would’ve been cool if Philadelphia got to 19-0 before New England finished wrangling the copyright to that “phrase,” but c’est levie. Suckers. Philly’s clearly fine, barring some sort of epic collapse, and Cleveland is in that middle section. We could see some terribly disappointed National Conference teams come playoff time.