ArenaBowl XXIII Preview: Tampa Bay to Get Shocked in Quest for Sixth Ring
Aug 18, 2010
Credit: Adam Markowitz | www.sbrforum.com
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Behind quarterback Brett Dietz, the Tampa Bay Storm will be looking to win its sixth ArenaBowl title this Friday night. Standing in their way will be the Spokane Shock.
The Arena Football League's most illustrious franchise, the Tampa Bay Storm, will look for their sixth ArenaBowl title on Friday night when the travel to the northwest to duke it out with the Spokane Shock, a newcomer in the AFL, for ArenaBowl XXIII.
The Storm punched their ticket to their eighth ArenaBowl in franchise history by winning one of the greatest games in the history of the league.
Tampa Bay held a three score lead on the Orlando Predators in the third quarter of last week's American Conference Championship Game, only to watch that lead disappear with just one minute to play. With the Storm trailing 56-55, QB Brett Dietz took over and brought the Storm to the go-ahead touchdown which put them up seven. Orlando brought the score within a point and had a chance to win, but Carlos Martinez's 49-yard field goal attempt as time expired fell just short.
Dietz was one of three quarterbacks in the league this year to throw for 5,000+ yards, as he finished with 5,034 and a franchise record 106 touchdown passes. For the playoffs, Dietz has the second most touchdown passes with 14, and he has only thrown two picks. His 529 yards in two games is the second highest total in the league.
Wide receiver Tyrone Timmons has come on strong this year for Tampa Bay. He is tied for the second most touchdowns in the postseason with six on just 12 catches. He led the team in receptions (117) and receiving yards (1,378) in the regular season as well. Edwards and fellow WR Hank Edwards combined for 73 touchdown receptions this year, which was third amongst sets of teammates in the AFL.
Defensively, the Storm have one of the most ferocious lines in the game, led by Jermaine Smith, Tim McGill, and Kelvin Kinney. Smith led the team with seven sacks in the regular season. Defensive back Erick McIntosh leads the AFL in INTs in the postseason with two, and he has 12 tackles and five pass breakups to boot.
The Storm had the second best defense in the league this year, allowing just 50.8 PPG. They also had the second best offense in the American Conference, averaging 57.9 PPG.
The offense paled in comparison to the power of the Spokane offense, though. The Shock came up just two scores shy of 1,000 points this year, averaging 61.8 PPG. The defense was the second best in the National Conference at 52.7 PPG.
The Shock had to hold off the best offense in the history of the AFL in order to reach the ArenaBowl, as they topped the Milwaukee Iron 60-57 in another wild game. The Shock improved to 15-3 on the season, and they earned home field advantage for the ArenaBowl by having the best record in the league in the regular season.
There may not be much in the way of ArenaBowl experience on this team, but at least there is a ton of ArenaCup experience. The Shock played in the af2 before graduating up to the AFL this season. They have played in three ArenaCup championships, winning in 2006 and 2009 but losing in 2008. Ironically, the only one of those three that was played in Spokane Arena was in 2008, their one defeat in the af2 title game.
One key member of this team that has never had championship experience is QB Kyle Rowley. Rowley put up fantastic numbers for the Arkansas Twisters over the last two seasons, amassing 191 touchdown passes against just 27 INTs.
Prior to this season though, his postseason numbers were terrible. Rowley completed 73.4 percent of his passes for 457 yards with a miserable TD/INT ratio of 6/6. He was 0-2 lifetime before this year. It has all turned around for him with the Shock, though. Rowley is the second most efficient quarterback in the league in the postseason behind just Milwaukee's Chris Greisen. He has gone 53-of-74 for 494 yards with 14 TDs and no interceptions.
The combination of receivers Greg Orton and Huey Whittaker has been fantastic in these playoffs, as that duo has totaled 36 catches, 347 yards, and eight scores.
Whittaker was a great candidate for Offensive Player of the Year honors after catching 144 passes for 1,653 yards and 37 TDs on the season.
These two franchises have never met on the gridiron before. The ArenaBowl XXIII betting line features the Shock favored by 3.5 points. The 'total' is up from an opening line of 114 to 114.5.
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