Overconfident Soul Prove To Be Mortal In ArenaBowl XXV
NEW ORLEANS -- So much for "We got this." The Philadelphia Soul came into ArenaBowl XXV as one of the most confidence teams that we have ever seen heading into a championship game. After 15 victories in the regular season and two romps in the playoffs, there was no reason for this record setting offense and ball-hawking defense to feel like they could ever possibly turn up on the short end of the stick. However, Philadelphia was humbled for sure in the form of a 72-54 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Rattlers at New Orleans Arena.
The game turned out to be a brutal disaster from the get go for the Soul. They were as good as dead just one drive into the game, as Dan Raudabaugh was picked off by Kevin McCullough. It was the first of three blunders in the half by Raudabaugh, who ended up dubiously becoming the first quarterback in ArenaBowl history to throw three picks in the first half of a championship game. In fact, by halftime, Raudabaugh was the first quarterback since Connell Maynor in 1999 to toss three picks in an ArenaBowl.
To Raudabaugh's credit, he played a heck of a lot better after starting the game at just 6-of-16 for 67 yards. At the time, he didn't have a touchdown and did have those three INTs. The Miami Ohio graduate completed 20 of his final 26 passes for 218 yards and seven TDs. However, it was far too little, far too late.
The Soul continued to fight in the second half, scoring on all six of their possessions. They attempted five onside kicks and couldn't recover any of the five though, and that really put them in a position where they just never had a chance to get back in the action.
Thanks to Philadelphia's onside kicking, its 54 points for the game didn't nearly look all that bad. The Soul scored just 13 points in the first half though, and that snapped a string of 70 straight halves scoring at least 14 points for their offense.
The Soul and the Rattlers combined for 48 points in the third quarter, an ArenaBowl and postseason record for points scored in the third quarter of a single game. The 86 points scored between these two teams combined easily smashed the record for the most points in a single half in ArenaBowl history set last year when the Jacksonville Sharks and these Rattlers combined to put up 76.
The "Soul Patrol," also known as the Philadelphia secondary ended up tasting a bit of humble pie as well. Rayshaun Kizer felt like he was shafted from the All-Arena team this year, and he and Kent Richardson really thought that they were the best tandem of corners in the league. This unit just couldn't stop Nick Davila and Maurice Purify, though. Now, instead of going down in the record books as a unit that ended up winning the ArenaBowl, it is going to go down as the unit that allowed the most passing touchdowns (9), the most total touchdowns (10), and the second most points (72) in the history of the ArenaBowl.
Philadelphia's defense did come up with two half stops in the first half, forcing the Rattlers to take field goals instead of getting touchdowns, but there wasn't a drive in the game in which it came up with a full stop to get the ball back to the offense.
From the end of the second quarter through the 14:00 mark in the fourth quarter, Davila completed eight straight passes and put five touchdowns on the board in that stretch. The Philadelphia defense also became the first in ArenaBowl history (and we believe to be the first in AFL history in all games) to concede four touchdowns on four consecutive defensive plays.
Arizona became the fastest team to ever reach 60 points in an ArenaBowl (12:05 remaining in the 4th quarter), and the fastest to reach 70 points in an ArenaBowl (3:35 remaining in the 4th quarter).
Thanks to the fact that they were playing the entire game from behind, Philadelphia attempted five onside kicks, an ArenaBowl record, and four two-point conversion plays, also a league record. The two converted two-point conversions tied an ArenaBowl record.
On the bright side, Raudabaugh did set a league record for ArenaBowls by throwing six touchdown passes in the second half, and the 31-yard receiving touchdown by FB Derrick Ross turned out to be the longest receiving touchdown by a fullback or tight end in ArenaBowl history. Only Rick Hamilton's 36-yard touchdown run in ArenaBowl XII against the Tampa Bay Storm proved to be a longer offensive touchdown in ArenaBowl history for a big man.
Jeff Hughley was named the league's Ironman of the Year in 2012, and he was the very deserving Ironman of the Game as well. He had 93 yards as a receiver and 113 as a return man, and that 206 all-purpose yardage was the third best effort by for a player in ArenaBowl history.
And now, Head Coach Doug Plank knows that he has to go back to the drawing board. He had the best team in the league this year from a statistical standpoint, but he didn't have a team that was tough enough physically or mentally on this night to get the job done. In the end, it is hard to say that the Soul had the better of the two teams on the field on this night, or on any night.
For Plank, this is more of the same. He is still waiting for his elusive first championship, and he will surely be back for another go at it in 2013.
If there is anything to take away from this game for the Soul though, it is that the Rattlers were able to come back this year after losing the ArenaBowl to win a championship. If Arizona can do it, Philadelphia can do it.
Maybe ArenaBowl XXVI will be the year that the Soul get their second ever Foster Trophy.