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Storm Fall Short as Wild 2014 Season Abruptly Ends

Connor Akeman
Tuesday July 29, 2014

With the hiring of head coach, and AFL legend, Lawrence Samuels many months ago, a new era of Tampa Bay Storm football was set to begin in 2014. And on Saturday night, the Storm had a chance to make something special out of what was mostly an up and down, wild ride of a season. The Cleveland Gladiators however, had something else on their minds and it wasn’t just spoiling the Storm’s playoff hopes. With the 56-49 win over the Storm, Cleveland finishes the regular season 17-1, the best mark ever in league history. 

The formula was once again a simple one for the Storm. Thanks to a Pittsburgh Power dismantling of the Philadelphia Soul earlier on in the evening, the Storm controlled their own postseason fate. But even with the help, the Storm fell short of the league best Gladiators and will miss the postseason. Zero defensive stops, zero leads and numerous, immature personal fouls played a large role in the Storm’s downfall in this season finale. Not only will Tampa Bay miss the playoffs, the Storm will again end the regular season on a losing streak of at least four games. 
“I appreciate the guys effort,” head coach Lawrence Samuels said after the loss to Cleveland. “We came up a little bit short. We had our opportunities; we again just came up short.”
Just came up short. Four words that nicely piece together this Storm season. Even with the undeserving playoff appearance last season, the past four years for the Storm have been nothing shy of a complete embarrassment. While the Storm are still arguably the most storied and successful franchise in the Arena Football League, they are not feared any longer. Here’s just a brief summary of how it all went down for the Storm this season. 
Week 1 vs New Orleans     W 62-57 -  The first ever game in the Lawrence Samuels era. A back and forth affair eventually goes the Storm’s way and Tampa Bay begins the new season 1-0
Week 2 AT San Antonio     W 48-48  -  A last second Amarri Jackson TD reception in the fourth quarter gives the Storm a victory in San Antonio. Tampa Bay begins the season 2-0 for the first time since 2008
Week 3 vs Orlando   L 56-42  - In the first of three meetings this season, Orlando hands the Storm a heartbreaking loss with a last second TD. The Storm fall short after rallying from a 21-6 deficit. 
Week 4 vs Philadelphia W 63-49  -  A start to finish, complete domination from the Tampa Bay Storm. Randy Hippeard leads Storm offense with seven touchdown passes. Tampa Bay improves to 3-1
Week 5 AT Jacksonville   L 60-41  - The beginning of a crushing, season deflating five game losing streak. Storm fall to 0-6 lifetime in Jacksonville. 
Week 6 AT Orlando   L 77-65  - Storm lose another divisional game on the road. Tampa Bay digs early 14-0 hole and never recovers. 
Week 7 vs Spokane  L 53-41  -  Spokane QB, and reigning AFL MVP, Erik Meyer leads Shock over Storm with six touchdown passes. Tampa Bay scores only 14 points the entire second half. 
Week 8 vs Portland  L 61-42  - One of the worst losses in Tampa Bay Storm history. A 19 point loss to a first year expansion team at home. Storm fall to 3-5. 
Week 10 AT Philadelphia  L 62-34  - Coming off their first bye week, the Storm show up lifeless and unchanged against the Soul. Tampa Bay loses fifth straight game. 
Week 11 vs Jacksonville  W 56-35  - There it is! A win over Jacksonville and the end of a five game losing streak. Storm defense hold the Sharks scoreless during fourth quarter. 
Week 12 AT New Orleans  W 62-48  - The Storm handle the Voodoo fairly easily again. First win for the Storm in New Orleans since 2011. 
Week 13 vs Philadelphia  W 56-49  - A much closer affair with the Soul this time. Storm defense stops the Soul four times on fourth down. Tides are changing as Tampa Bay gets back to .500 on the season. 
Week 14 AT Iowa  W 62-56  - A true “barnburner” against the Barnstormers. Iowa forces overtime where Storm get a stop and a score to win fourth straight game. A clutch road victory. 
Week 15 vs Orlando  W 35-34  - A five game winning streak following the five game losing streak for Tampa Bay. A much lower scoring affair in the third and final matchup with Orlando. Storm defense holds predators to just seven points the entire second half. Storm inch closer to Predators in division race.
Week 16 AT Cleveland  L 48-41   -  Late turnover dooms Storm in upset attempt. Win streak snapped by 13-1 Gladiators. 
Week 18 AT San Jose  L 52-43  - Storm begin last third of season on west coast and lose to SaberCats. Wild Card race heats up in the American Conference while division seems unlikey now for Tampa Bay. 
Week 19 AT Spokane  L 55-52  - Needing a win in their final two games to clinch playoff spot, the Storm fall short on a Monday night game in Spokane. A pick-six on first play of fourth quarter seals away the win for Spokane. Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes will come down to final week. 
Week 20 vs Cleveland L 56-49  - The Storm get the help, but not the win over league best Gladiators. Tampa Bay misses playoffs for the third time in past four seasons. Season ends on four game losing streak. 
A rollercoaster ride to be sure. Lengthy losing streaks followed by hopeful winning streaks. But in the end, another sub .500 season and a failed attempt at a postseason bid. Next season brings new opportunities for the Tampa Bay Storm, but right now this team and franchise again, well, just came up short.

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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