Shock Outclassed by Rattlers in Phoenix
The Spokane Shock entered the US Airways Center with hopes of taking down the arch nemesis Arizona Rattlers and cementing their position atop the National Conference. By the time the final whistle was blown, they couldn’t have been further from that goal. The Shock will return to Spokane after a 68-49 thumping from the league’s premier franchise.
Spokane’s offense then hit a brick wall. After scoring on their first three drives, the Shock managed zero points on their next four. Nothing was going their way. First was a turnover on downs, followed by a Brandon Thompkins fumble after they managed to pick off Rattlers QB Nick Davila. K Taylor Rowen then missed a 44 yard field goal to close out the second half.
The game was still within reach as the second half kicked off. Even after the Rattlers scored on their first possession of the third quarter, the Shock were still behind by only 12 points. But, Erik Meyer was intercepted and the Rattlers turned it into another touchdown and a 19 point lead. The offense began to click late, but the damage had already been done.
Spokane’s defense was mercilessly carved up by Nick Davila on Sunday evening. They managed only one stop in the game, which was subsequently nullified by the aforementioned Shock fumble. Davila had a field day, passing or 225 yards and 8 touchdowns with an 81% completion percentage.
Spokane suffered a big loss early in the game when veteran LB Terence Moore was ejected from the game when he threw a punch after the whistle. This required the Shock defense to shift its personnel completely and take players out of their natural positions.
Penalties, though often not as severe as Moore’s, have been problem for the Shock thus far. They committed nine penalties for 48 yards on Sunday. While the yardage mark isn’t terribly egregious, the effect on the game is. Five of the nine ended up giving the Rattlers a fresh set of downs. Penalties also played a role in the Shock’s playoff last year to the Rattlers. Arizona is far too talented to be giving out free first downs. Olson spoke before the season about cutting down on penalties, but the Shock have shown little improvement so far.
Arizona controlled the football game in every facet. Their offense was nearly perfect and their defense was stifling. Even their special teams were better, as they held the dangerous Terrence Sanders to only 60 yards on five returns. It’s evident that the Rattlers are the class of the AFL and it will require a near perfect game to take them down. In their current state, the Shock have some work to do before they can achieve that. Spokane has a bye week to lick their wounds and prepare for another difficult matchup, this time in San Jose against the SaberCats. Every game counts in the top-heavy National Conference. If Spokane doesn’t quickly improve their game, they could find themselves at 1-2 and staring up at San Jose and Arizona in the standings.
Kickoff is set for April 4th at 7:30 p.m. PST.