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Breaking it Down - 2010 Week 11

Andy Lopusnak
Thursday June 17, 2010


The eleventh week of AFL action featured the road team winning a season-high five games. Four of the seven games were decided by six or fewer points, including two decided by a single point. All eight teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today remained the same for the third straight week. More awaits you inside this week’s edition of Breaking it Down

 

WEEK ELEVEN RESULTS

Tulsa 69, DALLAS 51

Tampa Bay 61, ALABAMA 55

ARIZONA 56, Oklahoma City 55

Spokane 53, ORLANDO 52

MILWAUKEE 82, Cleveland 54

Iowa 48, BOSSIER-SHREVEPORT 42

Chicago 70, UTAH 50


Home team in ALL CAPS

BYE: Jacksonville

 

WEEK ELEVEN FEATURED….

  • The road team went 5-2 with only Milwaukee and Arizona winning at home.
  • Spokane advanced to 4-0 on the road, while Milwaukee went to 6-0 at home.
  • Four games were decided by six or fewer points.
  • There were five passers with 300 yards and 14 receivers posted at least 100 yards.

 

QUICK RECAPS

The Vigilantes lost their sixth straight despite leading 44-28 with 23 minutes left in the game as Tulsa outscored Dallas 41-7 the rest of the way. Tulsa 69-51.

 

For the second straight week, the Yard Dawgz failed to convert a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter. Last week, it was with nine seconds left that would have likley forced overtime against Tampa Bay. This week at Arizona, the failed two-point try happened with no time left and would have won the game for OKC. The Yard Dawgz also missed four PATs in the game. Arizona 56-55.

 

Tied at 41 at the half, Milwaukee doubled its point total while limited Cleveland to just 13 second-half points. The 82 points for the Iron is a season high. Milwaukee has the best home record (6-0), but has just one road victory – the Iron is on the road four of the final six weeks of the AFL season. Milwaukee 82-54.

 

Iowa won its third straight road game by scoring with 24 seconds left to take a six-point lead at Bossier-Shreveport then defensive backs Jason Simpson and Khalil Carter broke up the game’s final play to secure the Barnstormer’s first win since May 15. Iowa 48-42.

 

With 20 minutes left, Tampa Bay held a 24-point lead but a strong second-half surge by Alabama brought the Vipers within six with 25 seconds left. The Storm got the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock giving Tampa Bay its first four-game winning streak since 2007. Tampa Bay 61-55.

 

Chicago posted its third straight road win by destroying the hapless Blaze its fifth straight loss. The Blaze has lost by 20 points in each of its last four games. This game was not even close as the Rush was up 63-30 at the end of the third quarter and put in the reserves for the final period. Chicago 70-50.

 

Orlando was shutout in the first and fourth quarters as Spokane scored the game’s final 13 points to win its fifth straight. The Predators’ 50-yard field goal as time expired was blocked. Spokane has the best road record in the AFL (4-0), while Orlando has one of the worst home records (1-3). Spokane 53-52.

 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Over the last five weeks, the road teams have posted a 19-16 record, including a season-best 5-2 mark this week. It helped that three of the worse home teams hosted games this week (Dallas, Orlando and Utah have combined for a 3-11 home record). The two home teams that won this week are now a combined 9-2 at home, including Milwaukee that boasts the best home record in the AFL (6-0). Through eleven weeks, the road team has posted six winning weeks (Weeks: 1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 for a combined record of 21-13). The home team has had five winning weeks (Weeks: 2-5, 8 for a combined record of 23-7). Despite the recent road trend, the home team has won an overwhelming 66.7% of the games through eleven weeks (36-28). In comparison through eleven weeks in 2008, the home team’s winning percentage was 60%.

 

NICE BIRTHDAY GIFT

Tulsa QB Justin Allgood celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday night by leading his Talons to a come-from-behind victory against Dallas 69-51. The Dallas-area native completed 25-of-37 for a season-high 384 yards with eight touchdowns and an interception. Allgood’s final two passes were both seven-yard touchdowns to Donovan Morgan. Five of Allgood’s eight TD passes came in the second half after his team trailed 44-28. Allgood leads the AFL in passing touchdowns (70) and is on pace for 112, which would be the second most in AFL history. Last year in the af2, Allgood led the league with 108 touchdowns.

 

2,000-YARD MAN

Dallas receiver/returner Kenny Henderson became the first player this season to post at least 2,000 all-purpose yards. Against Tulsa, he added 276 all-purpose yards to put his season total through nine games at 2,022. Henderson also leads the AFL with 1,247 kickoff return yards.

 

FLAGS ON THE GROUND

One reason for the road teams 5-2 record this week could be attributed to the high number of penalties called against the home teams. For just the second time this season, the home team as a whole was penalized more than the road team. Six of the seven home teams this week had more penalty yards than the road squads (Utah was the exception, but got smoked by 20 points). Here’s a look at how the penalties have been gone through the first eleven weeks.

 

 

ROAD TEAM

HOME TEAM

DIFFERENCE

Weeks 1-4

226-1,436

177-978

49-458

Week 5

58-360 

67-473

(9-113)

Weeks 6-10

297-1,702

249-1,609

48-93

Week 11

57-382

76-493

(19-111)

TOTALS

638-3,880

569-3,553

69-327

 

STORM WINS BUT GIVE UP LOTS OF YARDS

The Tampa Bay franchise dates back to the league’s first game back in 1987 when the team was known as the Pittsburgh Gladiators and this past week was the team’s 288th regular season game. Against Alabama, the Storm’s defense allowed 398 total yards at Alabama, which ties for the most ever allowed by the league’s oldest franchise (tied with a 2008 win against Orlando). Vipers QB Kevin Eakin’s 396 passing yards is also a new record for a Storm opponent. However, the defense did limit the league’s top rushing team to a season-low six yards on two carries. In the 38 times that the Storm/Gladiators franchise has given up 300 yards to a passer, the team wins 61% of the time (23-15, inlcluding 2-1 this year). Of the top six passing performances against Tampa Bay, four were Storm wins including two contests this season.

 

DAN RAN DAN

Over the last five games, Alabama fullback Dan Alexander’s rushing totals have dropped significantly. Yes, he has scored a rushing TD in all ten games this season and still leads the league in rushing attempts and rushing scores, but he has fallen to fourth in rushing yards after posting a combined zero yards on 11 attempts in his last five games. Alexander’s 23 rushing scores through ten games is now tied for third in single-season AFL history trailing only Bernard Hall’s 26 in 1996 with St. Louis and Alexander’s 41 in 2007 with Nashville.

 

 

RUSHES

YARDS

AVG

TD

TEAM RECORD

1st 5 games

56

116

2.1

18

2-3

Last 5 games

11

0

0.0

5

1-4

TOTALS

67

116

1.7

23

3-7

 

RUNNING RYAN

Iowa QB Ryan Vena ran for two scores this week that now puts him second in the AFL with 16 rushing scores. He is on pace to break the league record for most rushing TDs by a QB in a single season. In league single-season history, Vena is currently third and only trails Michael Bishop’s 18 in 2005 with Grand Rapids and Adrian McPherson’s 19 in 2004 with Indiana. Running the ball isn’t anything new to Vena, who ran for 226 yards and 14 TDs in his first AFL season (2004 with Columbus). However, in his previous two seasons in the af2 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Vena combined for 16 total rushing scores. This season, Vena has posted a rushing score in eight of nine games, including five multi-TD games. Vena is also on the doorstep of another AFL record. His 16 interceptions on the year are the most in the AFL and he’s on pace to shatter the league mark of 21 set by John Kaleo.

 

FAB FIVE FERGIE

Chicago DB Josh Ferguson has posted an interception in five straight games. His seven picks on the year rank second in the league as do his 68.5 tackles. Five in a row is impressive but Ferguson still has a ways to reach the league mark set by San Jose’s Clevan Thomas, who posted an interception in nine straight regular season games. Thomas did so in the final two games of 2002 and in the first seven games of 2003. He earned AFL Defensive Player of the Year in both seasons.

 

RAY OF HOPE

Orlando DB Rayshawn Kizer posted his fourth multi-interception game of the season this week. He tallied two picks in a losing effort against Spokane. In addition to the two INTs vs. the Shock, Kizer had three INT against Dallas on May 7, then added two picks in the Alabama (5/15) and Tampa Bay (5/28) to give him a league-leading nine interceptions. With one more interception, Kizer will record just the 21st ten-INT season in league history. The league single-season record for interceptions is 13 held by four players. If Kizer posted another multi-INT game, he will be the first ever to have five multi-INT games in a single season.

 

NELSON JOINS THE CENTURY CLUB

This week. Cleveland’s Ben Nelson joined Arizona’s Rod Windsor as the only players with 100-catches on the season. Nelson caught 13 balls for 152 yards and three scores in a losing effort. That placed him over the 100-catch mark for his third straight AFL season. In each of these three seasons, he has done so with three different teams: San Jose, Colorado and Cleveland. Nelson leads the AFL this year in receiving yards (1,369) and receiving TDs (tied with Donovan Morgan with 34). Both are new career highs for Nelson.

 

WIND ADVISORY

Once again, Arizona WR Rod Windsor continues to shine in the desert. This week, the league leader in receptions added 12 more to his total along with 147 yards and a touchdown. He also had a rushing score. In nine games, Windsor has posted eight 100-yard games along with at least 11 grabs in seven contests. He has tallied eight multi-TD games and scored in all nine games.

 

CAPTAIN MORGAN

With all the headlines being stolen by Windsor’s stellar season, Tulsa’s Donovan Morgan has consistently been dominate for the Talons all year. This week, the 2008 AFL Rookie of the Year caught eleven balls for 143 yards and five scores. Morgan leads the league in scoring (210 points), total touchdowns (34 tied with Nelson) and receiving touchdowns (34 tied with Nelson). All this and he has just 79 catches on the year, which ranks eighth in the league. Morgan catches a TD every 1.84 receptions. In comparison, Windsor does the same in every 4.52 catches. Morgan has posted eight 100-yard games and nine multi-TD games (he has scored in all ten contests).

 

YOU JUST GOT “BEAT BY A BUNCH OF af2 PLAYERS”

Orlando DB Kenny McEntyre stuck his foot in his mouth this week telling the Orlando Sentinel: "There's no excuse to get beat by a bunch of Arena 2 players. Our quarterback has got to get a lot better. Not the offense, the quarterback. One [person] can't hold up the show." First, there’s no excuse for the two-time AFL Defensive Player of the Year to call any team a bunch of af2 players since every team is filled with former af2 players including the Predators. Second, publicly calling out a teammate is the ultimate no-no in sports. It only creates problems. This was idiotic for him to say call Spokane a bunch of af2 players and throwing Hill under the bus. Nevertheless, here at Breaking it Down, we take it to another level. So, let’s breakdown what league’s all-time interceptions leader said and you be the judge.

 

The Preds are 3-3 against former af2 teams and have three more games against former af2 teams on their schedule. Orlando is 1-1 against the two expansion teams and face Jacksonville this week. Against former AFL teams, Orlando is 0-1 (losing to Tampa Bay by 12 at home) and have three more games against 2008 AFL teams.

 

Predators QB Nick Hill, a 2009 af2 player, had his worst statistical game of the season. He completed 53% of his passes for 207 yards with two TDs and a costly interception late in the fourth quarter. On the year, Hill ranks third in completion percentage (only Chicago’s Russ Michna and Milwaukee’s Chris Greisen are better). Hill is on pace to break the Predators’ single-season passing yardage mark. He also is second in the league in rushing yardage (127) and rushing touchdowns (nine) among quarterbacks. However, his 12 picks are tied for third most in the league. Last year in the af2, Hill tossed the second most INTs in the af2 (19 with Rio Grande Valley). His 38 passing scores rank 13th in the league. By the way, five of the top six leaders in passing TDs are former af2 players.

 

The Orlando defense allowed two receivers to post 11 catches for over 120 yards each and Shock QB Kyle Rowley completed 70% of his passes for 305 yards (his fifth 300-yard game of the season). Eight of the Predators’ eleven penalties were on the defensive side of the ball, including three that produced first downs. However, McEntyre’s defense buddies did tally three interceptions, including one he returned 47 yards for a touchdown. On McEntyre’s 11 solo tackles, he allowed 199 of Rowley’s non TD 255 yards (I haven’t seen the game tape, so I don’t know how many of Rowley’s six TDs were against him).

 

Overall, Orlando has the fifth-best total defense in the league (that af2-filled Spokane team that beat K-Mac is #1) and its 15 interceptions are second most in the AFL behind Chicago’s 19. The Predators have the fewest sacks (just three) in the AFL (again, those pesky af2ers in the Pacific Northwest are #1 in that category too – this must hurt K-Mac). On special teams, Orlando has made and attempted more field goals than any other team (8-of-16), including the team going one-of-three in this one-point game.

 

CAN OKC MAKE A RUN AT ALABAMA AND ORLANDO? YES!

Oklahoma City’s bye this week might be just what the old Dawgz need to make a huge push in the final six weeks of the season. The last couple of weeks, OKC has shown it can play with the big dogs losing by a combined eight points to three of the best teams in the league (Spokane, Tampa Bay and Arizona that have a combined 19-8 record). OKC had second-half leads against the Shock, Storm and Barnstormers before Tommy Grady mishandled snaps that led to scores and wins for those three teams. The next five Yard Dawgz opponents all have losing records but three of those contests are on the road where OKC is a league worst 0-5. Those five opponents are a combined 12-26.

 

The two teams ahead of OKC in the American Conference playoffs have significantly harder schedules in their next five games. Alabama (5-5) holds the final playoff spot but in its next five games the teams are a combined 24-22 and three of the five teams have winning records. Orlando (4-5) has one of the hardest five-game stretches coming up before hosting OKC in Week 17. These five opponents have a combined 30-19 record and include Jacksonville, Chicago and Milwaukee. OKC already has the tiebreaker over Alabama based on its 26-point win over the Vipers and would have it over the Predators with a win in Week 17. Of course, the Yard Dawgz have to win on the road to make any of this happen and have lost nine straight road contests dating back to the af2 last season.

 

MISSING PLAYERS

With salaries beginning at $400 per game, look for players to randomly miss games for other opportunities this season and for many seasons to come until the salaries increase. The biggest loss due to this will occur when Chicago QB Russ Michna and WR Sammie Parker will miss this Saturday’s game against Milwaukee to attend the mini-camp of the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives (both were members of the 2009 UFL Champions last year). With the loss of the team’s top QB and WR, the Rush will need to rely on back-up signal caller J.J. Raterink, who made his AFL debut last week in Chicago’s blowout win at Utah. He completed two-of-five passes for 21 yards and added a rushing touchdown against the Blaze. The Rush was already hurting at receiver before Parker’s departure because its #2 and #3 receivers are currently on injured reserve (Nichiren Flowers and Kenny Higgins). Michna and Parker will be back with the Rush next week, but a loss this week will likely hand the Midwest Division to the Iron. Milwaukee and Chicago met in Week Six with the Iron blowing out a Rush team (71-48) that had Michna and Parker, so this week could get really ugly.

 

Before the departures of Michna and Parker, another big-name player left the AFL game for another job opportunity. Oklahoma City lost the reigning AFL Kicker of the Year, A.J. Haglund, due to a job commitment. In the last two weeks, OKC has lost by three combined points and their replacement kicker failed to hit the nets on almost every kickoff the past two weeks with OKC losing at Tampa Bay and Arizona by a combined three points. In his seven games played, Haglund missed four total PATs. Against the Rattlers, OKC missed four PATs. It’s unclear if Haglund will return to the team this season.

 

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

Nothing changed from last week in the playoff push as all eight potential playoff teams remained in the same spot if the postseason began today. These eight potential playoff teams were a combined 6-1 this week. Jacksonville was on a bye in Week Eleven, while Alabama was the only team one of these right teams to lose.

 

Note not all teams have played the same number of games due to the odd number of teams and the league using two bye weeks per team. Milwaukee owns the tiebreaker over Chicago based on the Iron’s head-to-head win earlier this season.

 

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

#4 Alabama (5-5) at #1 Jacksonville (7-2; South Division leader)

#3 Tampa Bay (6-3) at #2 Tulsa (6-4; Southwest Division leader)

 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

#4 Arizona (6-3) at #1 Spokane (7-2; Western Division leader)

#3 Chicago (7-3) at #2 Milwaukee (7-3; Midwest Division leader)

 

ARENABOWL XXII REMATCH POSSIBLE

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Soul and San Jose SaberCats announced that they would be returning to the AFL in 2011. These two teams played in the last ArenaBowl in 2008 with the Soul coming out on top 59-56. The Kansas City Bridage will also return to the AFL next season.

 

No other 2011 expansion teams have been announced yet but rumors have swirled that up to five new teams could be announced to push the league to 20 teams. Among the markets rumored to be getting potential AFL teams include Boston, New York and Pittsburgh. There’s also a rumor that the a version of the af2 will return next year and some current AFL teams will “move down” to that league. The 2011 season will be the AFL’s 24th and in every season there has been some sort of team movement - either expansion, contraction or movement to another city from the previous season.

 

WEEK ELEVEN’S STATS LEADERS 

100-YARD RECEIVERS

PLAYER, TEAM

RECEIVING YARDS

RECEPTIONS

TOUCHDOWNS

Donovan Morgan, TUL

143

11

5

Kenny Henderson, DAL

104

10

2

Craig Fulton, Jr., OKC

186

10

4

Rod Windsor, AZ

147

12

1

PJ Berry, BS

111

12

0

Todd Blythe, IOWA

127

9

4

Randy Hymes, BS

105

6

1

Ben Nelson, CLE

152

13

3

Tiger Jones, MIL

138

11

6

Hank Edwards, TB

112

6

2

Larry Shipp, ALA

208

14

4

CJ Johnson, ALA

110

9

2

Samie Parker, CHI

117

9

2

Aaron Boone, UTAH

103

9

2

 

300-YARD PASSERS

PLAYER, TEAM

PASSING YARDS

PASS TDs

INTERCEPTIONS

Justin Allgood, TUL

384

8

1

Tommy Grady, OKC

333

8

0

Gary Cooper, BS

335

4

3

John Dutton, CLE

324

7

0

Kevin Eakin, ALA

396

7

2

  

BREAKING IT DOWN MVP OF THE WEEK: Tiger Jones, Milwaukee WR

Jones becomes the second Iron player to receive the prestigious Breaking it Down MVP award after posting six receiving touchdowns on eleven grabs for 138 yards. Four of his six scores came in the first half before Milwaukee push the throttle down on Cleveland. Five of his scores came from over ten-yards out. Jones went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season during the game and his 29 receiving scores rank third in the league. This was Jones’ sixth 100-yard game of the season and his eighth multi-TD game (he’s scored a TD in all ten Iron contests).

 

2010 BREAKING IT DOWN MVP OF THE WEEK

WEEK

PLAYER, TEAM

STAT NOTE

1

Chris Greisen, Milwaukee QB

83 comp. pct, 327 pass yds, 9 TD, 0 INT

2

PJ Berry, Bossier-Shreveport WR/KR

357 all-purpose yards, 201 rec yds, 7 total TD

3

Kyle Rowley, Spokane QB

75.7 comp. pct, 316 pass yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 1 rush TD

4

Rod Windsor, Arizona WR

16 receptions, 230 rec. yards 6 rec TD, 2 rush TD

5

Tanner Varner, Iowa DB

15.0 tackles, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 TD

6

Tommy Grady, Oklahoma City QB

81 comp. pct, 430 pass yards, 10 TD, 1 INT

7

Ben Nelson, Cleveland WR

13 receptions, 202 yards, 6 TD

8

Nick Hill, Orlando QB

314 yards, 5 pass TD, 1 INT, 21 rushing yards, 3 rush TD

9

Caesar Rayford, Utah lineman

3 defensive TD (2 INT, 1 fumble), 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 FF

10

Rod Windsor, Arizona WR

16 rec, 162 yards, 3 rec TD, 2 rush TD, GW 2pt conv.

11

Tiger Jones, Milwaukee WR

11 rec. 138 yards, 5 TD

 

 


 
Andy Lopusnak is an 11-year AFL front office veteran, spending time with the Tampa Bay Storm, San Diego Riptide and Grand Rapids Rampage. He works as a statistician for NFL and college sports for CBS Sports and is a freelance photographer. Lopusnak received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of South Florida and has been a fan of ArenaBall since its inception.
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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