Soul Smash Sharks, Record Books To Move On To ArenaBowl XXV
About the only good news that the Jacksonville Sharks can say is that they were beating the Philadelphia Soul 6-0 on Friday night. The bad news for the Sharks is that they were absolutely demolished from that point forward, as they ended up getting beaten 89-34 in front of 12,330 at the Wells Fargo Center. The performance was one for the Arena Football League record books, and now, the Soul are on their way to New Orleans for ArenaBowl XXV next Friday.
The 89 points scored by the Soul broke the record of the 2001 Grand Rapids Rampage, who beat the Indiana Firebirds 83-70. Philadelphia is now the third team in the history of the league to score at least 80 points in a playoff game. All three have made it to the ArenaBowl. The 12 TDs scored also tied a league record for a postseason game, joining that effort by the '01 Rampage.
The tremendous beating marked the biggest blowout in the history of an AFL playoff game. The Detroit Drive posted the most lopsided victory in postseason history prior to this one, and that was back in 1993 against the Dallas Texans 51-6. This is the fourth time that a playoff game has ended with a margin of victory of at least 43 points, the most recent of which was the Arizona Rattlers in 2003 against the Las Vegas Sting. Once again, all five teams that have posted a win of more than six converted touchdowns went on to go to the ArenaBowl. The bad news for the Soul, though? Three of the previous four went on to lose the championship game.
If you include the regular season, this was the fifth biggest margin of victory in a game in league history, though the game did come up a touchdown shy of the 62-point win that the Albany Firebirds had over the Texas Terror in 1996.
This one was all over but the crying very quickly. After the Sharks scored on their opening possession, they turned the ball over on their next five drives. What ensued was a heck of a second quarter for the Soul, as they ended up outscoring Jacksonville 31-6 in the stanza. It was the biggest blowout in a single quarter in a playoff game in league history, and it tied the record for the most points ever scored in the second quarter of a postseason game.
After a relatively even third quarter which saw the two teams come up with a combined 45 points, the fourth quarter once again belonged to the Soul. They outscored Jacksonville 21-0 in the fourth to complete the 55-point romp.
Statistically, all of the numbers were awfully sad for Jacksonville. QB Bernard Morris is going to have a long offseason thinking about how bad of a last game this was for him. He went just 17-of-29 for 199 yards with three scores and three picks. He also had 50 yards on the ground and a TD. WR Jeron Harvey was about the only bright spot, as he caught nine passes for 141 yards and three TDs.
Even worse were the six turnovers, which came just one shy of the league postseason record, held by the Miami Hooters. There were eight turnovers combined in this game, which is also just one short of the all-time record.
On the other side of the field, it was obviously an efficient day for the Philadelphia offense. This unit turned the ball over twice and had to kick a field goal on the day, but aside from that, there were 12 TDs to show for its work. QB Dan Raudabaugh threw for 196 yards and three TDs before getting pulled when the game became a full blown laugher, and QB Adam DiMichele finished it off by completing 5-of-6 passes for 52 yards with two TDs.
The hero on the day though, was WR Larry Brackins. Brackins ended up with seven catches for 72 yards with five TDs, and he also had two scores on the ground and one as a return man. The eight scores set the record for the most touchdowns and points scored in a playoff game, breaking the mark held by WR TT Toliver of the Orlando Predators against the Tampa Bay Storm in 2010. Toliver had seven TDs on 165 receiving yards. Brackins' effort was one TD shy of the league record in all games of nine scored by WR Eddie Brown and WR Kevin Prentiss.
Philadelphia also had a total of five rushing touchdowns in this game, tying a league record for a playoff game held by three other teams, most recently the San Jose SaberCats in 2003.
And now it's off to the ArenaBowl for the Soul, where they will hope to pick up their second ever title. In their first 20 games this year, they have scored a whopping 1,383 points, an amazing average of 69.2 points per game. Even if Philadelphia doesn't score a single point, it would break the record for the most points in a single Arena Football League season. They're beating teams by 18.9 points per game including the second season, and that will surely make them tremendous favorites whether they face the Utah Blaze or the Arizona Rattlers in the Big Easy next week.