Biggest Upset In League History? 11-0 SaberCats Fall At Home To 1-9 KISS
Even though the 1-9 Los Angeles KISS made some significant roster changes, played a talented Jacksonville Sharks team tough, and earned their first win of the season against the Portland Thunder last week, very few expected them to come into the stadium of the 11-0 San Jose SaberCats and earn their first road win since the early 2014 season.
"They've improved a lot. I've got to give them credit," head coach Darren Arbet said in reference to the Los Angeles KISS, who they defeated 54-28 back in Week Two, but failed to defeat on Saturday in overtime. "I wouldn't say that's a 1-9 team. They changed their roster a lot, and they're playing well right now."
While the KISS may have played a solid game, the outcome certainly wasn't without the aid of many San Jose miscues and gaffes. Quarterback Erik Meyer threw a season-high three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Kicker Nich Pertuit missed a 20-yard field goal attempt early in the first quarter. Receiver Jeremy Kelley lost a fumble early in the second half that was only a few yards shy of a touchdown. A backwards pass to D.J. Stephens late in the third quarter was also dropped for a turnover. To top it all off, the kickoff team allowed 157 return yards, some of which contributed to a touchdown late in the first half.
If any single one of these situations went the SaberCats' way, odds are one of the biggest upsets in the Arena Football League would not be among discussion. But alas, they all happened, and despite a last-second touchdown to Reggie Gray in regulation to send the game to overtime, the momentum that San Jose gained was not enough to complete one last drive. The KISS would force a turnover on downs, and a controversial play that required a lengthy review was ultimately ruled a Los Angeles touchdown.
"We've got a lot of work to do. I'm just concerned about watching this film and getting better as a football team," Arbet stated when asked about his next objective. "I didn't have them prepared, and it's my fault."
At 11-1, the San Jose SaberCats fell one game short of matching the 2002 franchise record for most consecutive wins to start a season. The loss also snapped a 12-game home winning streak, as their last home loss was on April 12, 2014 to the Arizona Rattlers. To make matters even worse, quarterback Erik Meyer suffered a major injury in overtime after a third down sack. His status is currently unknown. The only good news for the SaberCats right now is that they have already clinched the 2015 Pacific Division crown. At the very least, they will make the playoffs as a second seed.
Clevan Thomas, who was with the SaberCats during their three ArenaBowl runs, was asked if this team could recover similarly to that 2002 incarnation that faced a horrific regular season loss, dropped to 12-1, and ultimately went all the way. His response? "Of course. Without a doubt."
While there is certainly confidence across the team, this scenario is very different for a number of reasons. Their regular season loss in 2002 was on the road in Arizona to an ArenaBowl contender, certainly not even remotely the same as falling to the 1-9 Los Angeles KISS at home. There is one similarity, however, and it's that this loss serves as a huge wakeup call.
Now the proof is there. This SaberCats team is certainly not invincible. No team ever is in any professional sports league. But they are still 11-1 for a reason. As they go on the road to face a solid Las Vegas Outlaws team, they will need to remember who they really are as a team, and that any matchup is by no means a given.
Any given weekend. That's how it goes in the Arena Football League.