Monday, April 16, 2012

Don't Call It a Comeback, the Power's Been Here For (2) years!

Happy 500th post, everyone! I'm hoping that this milestone will inspire yinz guys to reach 500 comments in response to our posts. Thanks for reading!

I have spent the last couple of days trying to process the Power's insane, history-making OT win against the Predators Saturday night. We won, and no one can take it away from us - not even the refs (more on that, later) - but there are still some very troubling things about the state of our team that have me concerned.

But for the game itself....oh, mama...the game. "A Tale of Two Halves" doesn't really cut it, and "A Tale of Three Quarters and Oh-Yeah-We're-Supposed-To-Play-Four" is a bit wordy. Let's just say, the game that we saw for most of 45 minutes was vastly different than the one we saw for the final 15.

As feared, Bobby Sippio got the start for Orlando, and proving that they have more trickery up their sleeve, they decided at the last minute to start Justin Roper at QB instead of Colin Drafts, throwing all planning out the window. We had no answer for Sippio, and Roper sure enjoyed throwing to him.

The Power started with the ball when Orlando deferred and then went 4-and-out. The Preds started their drive from near their own twenty, passed once to Eley Jr, and then aired it out to Sippio for the score. This set the tone for most of the evening right there. Roper was about 50% with 245 yards and six touchdowns, spreading the ball around to Forse, Sippio, Toliver and Eley Jr. Sippio counted for half the touchdowns scored by the Predator offense that night, and proved that he was a solid pickup for the team.

Our offense in the first half was just not going anywhere, and we ended the first half with 17 points (to Orlando's 41), no real pressure on the Predator offense, no interceptions, and an injured QB, yet again. Actually, to be technical, Hines went out at the end of the 1st quarter, and he hadn't looked that good while he was in. He didn't get picked at all, but he wasn't getting much done, and then he was out and we were left with Cassidy.

I'm really having a hard time deciding how to score Cassidy's performance. Sure, he threw for 5 touchdowns, looked more comfortable than Hines and we won the game...but damn, was he ever unimpressive. 12/22, 148 yards and 4 picks (AND ONE OF THOSE SHOULDN'T COUNT! Ahem...more later), he actually had a better time of it last year in his one game for the Voodoo. Sure, he's our (counts off fingers) 4th QB on the roster in five games, was an emergency pick-up and was only meant to be there if the human excrement hit the rotary blades of the air-moving appliance - and in that, he accomplished all we could have asked of him. However, depending on how bad Hines is hurt, we could be stuck with him until Stull gets better.

There is so much depressing about that statement that I just need to pretend that I didn't type it and just move on.

The second half looked like it was going to be more of the same. Down by 31 &^%*'n points, it would be an AFL league record if we were somehow able to come back from it. Uninspired offense, lackluster defense, scared silly QB and crowd that just couldn't be bothered to cheer (or show up, for the most part), it just wasn't looking like it was going to happen. I'm going to take a slight personal aside here, because it's where my mind was at the time.

To get to our seats, Keller and I enter through the swank-ass Captain Morgan club. For those who haven't been in there, there are nice concession stands on both sides. This week, only one was open. The stands were mostly empty. The Beer Guy only walked down through our section once the entire game. The Power was 1-3 on the season in a second (probably more like 3rd)-tier sport. One guy I passed heading up the aisle at one point was complaining that the commercials promise "Half the field, twice the excitement" but in reality, it's nothing exciting at all. Folks, these are not good things at all. This all seems to say that not only have the fans given up on the sport in Pittsburgh (again) but the venue is cutting its losses as well.

I bring this up because I'm a die-hard Arena fan, and even I was wondering about the possibility of the Power still being in town next season. Even I had to say that the three home games this year were boring. Even I had to admit that absolutely nothing explosive had happened the wh-


Late in the third, things had finally started to turn around! We had the ball, we were close to the end zone and Cassidy was firing for Joystick and, oh damnit he got pick- FUMBLE! Do we have it? Who has it? BERRY HAS IT! SCORE! The crowd was on their feet and they were in it!

The remainder of the game conclusively proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that the crowd in this sport does effect the outcome. Up until this point, the Predators had ruled the field. Sippio and Roper merged with the offense like they'd been there the whole time. They had a 31-point lead, for cryin' out loud! But now the crowd was on their feet and screaming and it started to get in their heads. The next drive, we actually stopped them in their tracks and forced a turnover on downs.

Our next drive, we scored and failed a 2-pt conversion, but there were more points on the board. Here is where many of the fans, including myself, collectively - and I'm using the technical term here -lost our shit and almost rushed the field in sheer zebra-induced blood rage. The official play-reports reads Roper incomplete to Sippio, followed by Roper incomplete to Sippio, followed by Roper intercepted by LeFlore. Major kudos to Dodgeball LeFlore, but he shouldn't have had to do that. The first "incomplete to Sippio" was really an intentional grounding in the end zone and should have been a safety. The next one was a fumble, turnover and score by the Power. The refs just seemed to be watching a different game.

Look, I'm not one of those people who says that the refs lost us the game or only see things when they aren't called on the bad guys or anything, it's just that- INTERCEPTION? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THE BALL BOUNCED OFF THE DAMN GROUND!

I would like to take this moment to publicly apologize for the things that I said at a family venue. I have no idea if the ref's mother has ever even been to Tijuana or if she's even that flexible. I also have no idea what his penis size is, or if in fact he is using Orlando money to rectify a situation that may or may not exist. I will also apologize for using the word "said" and not "scream loud enough that my voice is still raspy."

All of this only stood to put the crowd even more solidly in the Power's corner. Pittsburgh loves an us-vs-the world moment and will take any chance to back a person wearing black and gold in it. The Predators started getting penalty after penalty for false starts, delay of game, illegal defense - you name it. We were in their heads and not going anywhere, and by the end of regulation, with both kickers missing one PAT during the game, the score stood at 51-51.

In OT, we kept the pressure on and held them to a field goal. New Guy Cassidy ended this one (and probably the Predator's season) with a pass to New Guy Wise and the day was ours. Situations like this don't happen every week, but when they do, they're unforgettable. When you're there, not only do you get to see it, but due to the nature of the game, you get to literally be part of it. On the way out, I made sure to point that out to the idiot who was complaining about it being boring.

Next up, NOLA in the Graveyard.

Elsewhere in the league
  • Cleveland came up way short against Tampa Bay this weekend. Not sure where the vaunted Gladiator defense was this week, but it sure wasn't in Florida.
  • The Sharks lost a heart-breaker, 75-67 at home.
  • In the NFL GotW, the Voodoo got beat pretty good by Aaron Garcia and the Talons (I really enjoy watching him pass to Jason Willis.) The scoreboard really didn't tell the whole story, as New Orleans gave Garcia a lot of headaches in the first half and has a brutal defense. We are in a lot of trouble next week.
  • I don't want to talk about the Soul/Sabercats game. I really don't. They didn't rebroadcast it, and Philly won by a touchdown. I would have loved to have seen it.
  • Another I would have liked to have seen, just to know what went down. The Undefeated Rush are no more, as they got man-handled 70-49 by the Force. Didn't I say I had a bad feeling about this game?
  • The Barnstormers squeaked by the Rattlers, leaving the West Division in a three-way tie between the Ratts, Cats and Blaze...whoo-boy, that's going to get ugly.
  • Angry that I didn't mention Spokane in that last bullet point, Kyle Rowley and the Shock treated the 2012 Mustangs a lot like the 2011 Mustangs and won 57-26. HOW'S IT FEEL, MILWAUKEE?!