Super Soul Beat Storm, Continue To Add To Record AFL Record Books
TAMPA BAY – The Philadelphia Soul knew that they had absolutely nothing to play for on Friday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but they still entered the Arena Football League record books in a 83-79 win over the Tampa Bay Storm. The win for the Soul improved them to 13-3, though regardless of what they do the rest of the way, the road to the ArenaBowl in the American Conference will go through the City of Brotherly Love. The Storm started off the year at 6-0 at home, but losses in back-to-back weeks have put the team in dire straits at 6-9, as they likely need to win at least two, if not all three of their final three games to get into the playoffs.
Still, the story in this one was the Philadelphia offense. It felt as though every single time QB Dan Raudabaugh dropped back to pass, either WR Tiger Jones or WR Donovan Morgan was wide open on a go, a post, or a corner route. It was an awful day for the Tampa Bay secondary, which allowed Raudabaugh to throw for 415 yards, the second highest total in a single game in his career. The Miami Ohio product also had 11 passing touchdowns, which would have tied a league record if not for the 12 scores that QB Kyle Rowley had last week for the Spokane Shock.
For the season, Raudabaugh now has 105 TDs, the second best mark in the league behind just the Utah Blaze's QB Tommy Grady, who broke the record for the most touchdown passes in a single season last week. Raudabaugh has now logged the 19th season in AFL history with at least 100 TD passes, though others will surely reach that mark this year as well.
However, the records that Raudabaugh and the Soul are putting up this year absolutely will not be matched by any other team this season. The 83 points scored marked the fourth time this year that they have scored at least 80 points, marking the first time in league history that a team has reached that plateau. The fact that Philadelphia scored more than 60 points in this game gave it 13 games this year with at least 60 on the board. That ties the league record set by the Arizona Rattlers and the Jacksonville Sharks last year, and both of those teams reached 13 games with 60 or more points in 18 games; the Soul did it in just 16.
Speaking of 16-game records, the Soul also broke the 16-game record for scoring in AFL history with this game. The squad now has 1,097 points in 16 games, breaking the old 16-game record set by the Milwaukee Iron in 2010 (1,043 points). The Iron set the league record by averaging 65.2 points per game. Philadelphia is now at 68.6 points per game, and it needs to score just 62 more points in its final two games to break the league's scoring record for total points in a year (1,158, 2011 Jacksonville Sharks) and 77 points for the rest of the year to break the league's scoring average.
Friday night was a night for both Jones and Morgan. The two combined for 21 catches, 395 yards, and 10 scores. With his 204 yards, Jones became the first receiver on the season to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. He has become the first receiver in league history to tally at least 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, though WR Jesse Schmidt of the Iowa Barnstormers will also reach that mark this year in all likelihood. Jones now has one of the five seasons in AFL history with at least 2,000 receiving yards, though he has a lot of work to do to catch WR Rod Windsor for the most receiving yards per game in league history. Windsor averaged 148.3 yards per game in his record-breaking 2,372-yard season of 2010 with Arizona. Jones is at 125.6 yards per game at the moment, which would rank fourth in league history at the moment. (Schmidt is averaging 126.7 YPG coming into Week 17.)
Jones now has 47 TDs for the season, making him the 20th receiver to have at least 46 scores in a single season.
And that's not nearly all. WR/KR Jeff Hughley had 159 return yards in this game, giving him 1,665 for the year. He has four kick returns for touchdowns, making him the third man this year to have at least four scores on kickoff returns. Hughley leads the league in kick return yardage as of right now, though he will probably behind the likes of WR PJ Berry and WR CJ Johnson by the end of the week.
FB Derrick Ross leads the league in rushing this year with 481 yards and 27 TDs. He was inactive on Friday night, but the Soul are now the only team in AFL history to have a quarterback with 100 or more TD passes and a rusher with more than 20 TDs. Assuming that Jones has at least three more touchdowns this year, he and Raudabaugh will become the first tandem in league history 100+ passing TDs and 50+ receiving TDs in the same year.
The Soul are now finished playing games on the road this year. They are done at 8-1 and averaged 69.3 points per game. The eight wins on the road matched a league best by Arizona last year. The Rattlers also went 7-0 on the road in 2000. The Storm and the Orlando Predators went 5-0 on the road in 1992, the Detroit Drive were a perfect 5-0 as guests in 1991, and the Chicago Bruisers went 5-0 on the road in 1988. The 69.3 PPG was easily the best in the league's history for teams on the road.
The 162 points scored on Friday night marked the highest scoring game of the year and the fifth highest in AFL history. It is the second highest scoring game since the relaunch of the AFL in 2010. The game was the highest scoring both in Soul history and in Storm history.
In defeat on Friday night, QB Nick Hill accounted for eight total touchdowns for Tampa Bay, three of which were on the ground and five of which came passing. He threw for 313 yards and rushed for 42 more. WR Michael Lindsey had 105 yards as a receiver and 169 as a return man, scoring three times.
Philadelphia comes back to the Wells Fargo Center next week to take on Spokane. Tampa Bay faces what probably amounts to be a must-win game at the Pittsburgh Power in Week 18.