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Bye Week Mercifully Arrives as Thunder Steamroll Storm

Connor Akeman
Monday May 5, 2014

For the Tampa Bay Storm, Saturday night was a “must win.” It was an “easy win.” And most of all it was a perfect opportunity to get back on track. Well, apparently the Portland Thunder didn’t get that same memo and instead pushed the dagger in a little further on an already crippled Tampa Bay team with a 61-42 thrashing of the Storm.

With a surprising win in Jacksonville last week, the now 2-5 Thunder completed the Sunshine State sweep on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and left 10,584 fans shocked, looking for answers. 
“Our energy was really low in the first half,” head coach Lawrence Samuels said. “We didn’t come out and play like we did the second half. Once we found that energy we hit our stride, but we need to address our energy level in the first half as a coaching staff.”
Although the night would get worse for Tampa Bay as it went on, the Storm began the game with a fumble resulting in a quick Thunder touchdown. The Storm somehow found a way to give the ball back to Portland nine times. Yes, nine times. The Portland Thunder, the youngest and arguably the most inexperienced team in this league forced nine defensive stops.
With the exception of DB Rod Issac the Storm defense was a non-factor. “Once we were down we needed to stop the opposition’s offense and get the momentum back,” Isaac said. “We were able to get back in the third quarter, but we had those moments where we gave up another big play and we couldn’t just put our foot down on them.“
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay offense managed to fumble the ball three times, turn it over on downs three times, QB’s Randy Hippeard and BJ Hall each threw an interception, and the Storm even gave up a safety. Hippeard left the game with a knee injury after being sacked on that Portland safety late in the third quarter. He would not return.
Storm WR Joe Hills caught all five touchdown passes in the game and Tampa Bay would never lead for the second straight week. 
Perhaps the most alarming moment of this entire game however, was the Hippeard injury when not a single Storm teammate went over to check on the injured QB. It’s a very surprising, abnormal way of reacting to an injury and could quite possibly be a sign of a team that has completely lost all of its chemistry. 
For the first time this season, I can confidently say there were zero positives to take from this game for the Tampa Bay Storm. I can also venture to say this was the worst effort I have seen out of any team. Not this season, but ever.
“The bye week comes at the perfect time for us,” Samuels added after the game. “We have a lot of injuries. It’s time to relax, get away from football and let their bodies healed up, so we can come back, regroup and get things in order.”
Uncharacteristic is an absolute understatement when describing this game.  This was a lifeless, apathetic effort from the Storm and quite frankly was horrendous to watch. This was a 1-5 Portland team that came in with fewer credentials, was motivated, and just smacked around the Storm in all kinds of ways on their home turf, thousands of miles away from their own home. I can only hope refunds were offered for fans walking out of this one. 
Saturday night was all about way too much thunder in a very small storm. Tampa Bay falls to 3-5 on the season and will gladly welcome in their first bye week of the year.

Connor Akeman is a freelance sports writer and aspiring radio broadcaster who resides in Tampa, FL. A Tampa native, he considers himself emotionally invested in the Rays, Buccaneers, and Lightning by enjoying season tickets to all three teams. He has followed the Storm since the early Tim Marcum days and can remember attending his first ever Arena Football game in 2007. Studying Mass Communications/Journalism, Connor graduated from the University of South Florida in May 2017. He has spent time with and has been published by the Orange County Register in Anaheim, CA as well as other outlets. He currently contributes to of SB Nation. You can follow Connor on Twitter @ConnorAkeman.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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