Little Things Doom Storm in Collapse Against Predators
Drama, heartbreak, exhilaration, and thrill: All components of another wild edition of the “War on I-4” Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Storm, heartbreak was the most prevalent in a 56-52 last second loss to the Orlando Predators.
Holding an 11-point, 45-34 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Storm were poised to begin the season 3-0 for the first time since 2001. However, a fumble by Tampa Bay QB Randy Hippeard with 45 seconds left in the game gave Orlando the ball back down three and turned out to be the dagger for the Storm. An Orlando touchdown with six ticks left on the clock would give the Predators another comeback win over the Storm and sole possession of first place in the South Division.
It was the same, sad story for the Storm on Saturday night as Tampa Bay again managed to blow a late lead, make enough mistakes, and lose another big rivalry game.
Tampa Bay was outscored 28-13 in the fourth quarter, and in the quarter, some signs of the last couple underachieving Storm seasons slowly leaked into play.
An element not to be overlooked in the loss was Storm K Carlos Lopez, who missed four extra-point kicks. It was four extra points Tampa Bay would desperately need in a game lost by a total of -- you guessed it -- four points.
Turnovers, failed opportunities, and missed tackles are all the “small things” that contributed to the Storm’s fate Saturday night and are all things in a division game that Tampa Bay cannot afford.
The “small things” are the same things that led Tampa Bay to a 2-4 division record last year. That doesn’t include an additional meltdown to yet another division foe in the playoffs.
While the Storm do have plenty of season left to play, this team is finding new ways to lose close and seems to always disappoint in the clutch. A cause for concern? Yes. A reason to panic so early in the season? No.
Tampa Bay will look for a quick bounce back victory this Friday night at home against the Philadelphia Soul.