Off the Net: Return to Week 8

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Soul Streak to 7-0 – The Philadelphia Soul are the 17th team in AFL history to start a season at 7-0. This is the third-time they have started 7-0 in team history. It’s also the sixth time in the last four years that a team has started 7-0. Only two of the six went on to win the ArenaBowl. Historically, eight of the previous 16 teams to start 7-0 have claimed victory in the ArenaBowl and 11 of the previous 15 have at least reached the league’s championship game. Soul coach Clint Dolezel has been involved with four teams that started 7-0, twice as a player with the Dallas Desperados and once previously with the Soul in 2015. None of those teams ever played in the ArenaBowl.

Eight of the 16 prior teams which started 7-0 went on to lose their eighth game. Up next for the Soul? A date with the Cleveland Gladiators in the “City of Brotherly Love” in Week 10.

Team Wins to Start Season ArenaBowl?
2017 Philadelphia Soul 7 ???
2016 Orlando Predators 7 No
2015 Philadelphia Soul 7 No
2015 San Jose SaberCats 11 Yes
2014 Cleveland Gladiators 9 No
2014 Arizona Rattlers 14 Yes
2008 Philadelphia Soul 9 Yes
2008 Dallas Desperados 7 No
2007 Dallas Desperados 7 No
2002 San Jose SaberCats 12 Yes
2001 Tampa Bay Storm 7 Yes
2000 Orlando Predators 7 Yes
1996 Anaheim Piranhas 7 No
1996 Tampa Bay Storm 8 Yes
1994 Orlando Predators 11 No
1993 Detroit Drive 7 No
1988 Chicago Bruisers 10 Yes


Struggling Offense No Problem for Soul
– At one point in the third quarter in Week 8, the Soul had run 15 offensive plays, just six of which went for positive yards. They finished with 16 positive yardage plays, accounting for 156 yards, both of which are the fewest in the AFL this season. You might think that’s the fewest yards in a game in Philly’s history, but you’d be wrong – only the second fewest. The Soul amassed just 116 yards on 24 plays against New Orleans in 2007. Think they’d lose a game with that little offense? Try again. The Soul beat the VooDoo 78-34.

The last time a team won a game with fewer than 160 yards of offense? The Portland Steel had 154 in a win over the Jacksonville Sharks last season.

And if you’re wondering what the fewest yards in a game was by a winning team in AFL history, you have to go back to 1989 when the old Denver Dynamite beat the Maryland Commandos 20-15.

The Dynamite had 48 yards of offense. One of the linemen on that Denver team was Baltimore defensive coordinator, Walt Housman.

Raudabaugh’s Up and Down Day – Dan Raudabaugh needed 302 yards in Week 8 to become the 10th man in AFL history to throw for 30,000 yards. He never had the shot to get anywhere near, going just 10-for-22 for 148 yards and five touchdowns. It was the third time in a game in his career that Raudabaugh was held to 10 receptions or fewer. In each of the first two occurrences, it was the last game of the season, and he was held out for virtually the entire fourth quarter. Regardless, Raudabaugh was still voted the game’s Most Valuable Player last week against the Valor.

Brackett’s Career Game – Sean Brackett hadn’t even put on a Washington Valor uniform until Week 8 of the season. He was inactive in each of the team’s first five games, but he was thrust into duty as a starting quarterback after Erik Meyer hurt his hamstring and Bernard Morris was placed on league suspension. It wasn’t a bad day for the Columbia product, as he went 26-of-44 for 231 yards with five touchdowns. It was the most completions and most pass attempts in a game in Brackett’s career, and it also marked the first-time he went through an entire start without throwing an interception.

Driving the Carr – There’s no doubt that Brackett’s best friend on Saturday was Greg Carr. The Florida State wide out had 12 receptions for 131 yards and four scores. It was the first-time a player amassed four touchdowns in a game in Valor history, and it marked Carr’s eighth career four-score game.

Williams’ Dynamic Debut – Milton Williams had never played a game in the AFL before debuting for the Baltimore Brigade in Week 8. And my, what a debut he had! The rookie had six receptions for 90 yards and three TDs. The last man to debut with three TDs in a game was Joe Matthews in 2016 playing for Arizona. The 90 yards though, was the most by any receiver in his first game in the AFL since Doug Williams had 108 yards in his first ever game while playing for San Jose in 2014.

Quentin Continues To Run Rampant – Cleveland Gladiators’ receiver Quentin Sims has had an amazing start to his season. In a losing effort on Saturday, Sims had 12 receptions for 188 yards and five touchdowns. It was his third career game with five TD catches and left him one shy of the Cleveland record for TDs in a game. Sims also has at least 100 receiving yards in seven of his last eight games dating back to last season and is averaging 137.6 yards per game in that span.

Back and Forth Affair – The Gladiators and Brigade really slugged it out in a 63-60 game Week 8. There were a total of nine lead changes over the course of the game, seven of which came in the fourth quarter. It’s the most lead changes we’ve had in a game this season in the AFL. The last time there were at least nine lead changes in a game was in Week 5 last season, also a loss for Cleveland against Orlando. The seven lead changes in the fourth quarter? You’ve got to go back some ways to find that. Orlando beat Milwaukee 58-54 on May 21, 2010. The seventh lead change of the game was the game-winner at the gun, a 40-yard Hail Mary from Nick Hill to Bobby Sippio to win it for the Predators.

Closely Run Week – The two games in Week 8 were decided by a grand total of four points, or 2.0 points per game. The only other time in AFL history a week was this close was in Week 5 of the 1987 season. That week, the Chicago Bruisers beat the Washington Commandos 64-61, while the Denver Dynamite outdid the Pittsburgh Gladiators 32-31.

AFL Week 8 Odds and Ends
-Ryan McDaniel’s first quarter touchdown for the Soul gave him 100 for his career.

-Shaun Kauleinamoku finished up Week 8 with 45 receiving yards, pushing him beyond the 6,000-

yard mark for his career.

-The 52 plays run by the Valor in Week 8 were the most by any team in the AFL this season. The 30 run by the Soul were the fewest by any team.

-Rookie receiver Josh Reese only put his name on the stat sheet twice for the Valor in his first ever AFL game. His first action? Recovering a ball off the crossbar for a Washington touchdown in the second quarter. His second? A 13-yard touchdown catch with 3:52 remaining in the game.

-The Valor stopped the Soul on downs twice in Week 8. Philadelphia had been stopped on downs just three times all season long heading into the game.

-Rayshaun Kizer intercepted the 66th pass of his career in Week 8. The veteran has more 17 more interceptions than the next closest player in the AFL since 2010 (Tracy Belton, 49).

-The Soul have now won seven consecutive road games, tied for the sixth longest streak in AFL history.

-The Cleveland/Baltimore game turned out to be quite the flag fest. The Brigade, who were the least-penalized team in the AFL coming into Week 8, had 18 penalties, the most in a game by any team since 2015. The Gladiators though, added 12 penalties, and the 30 infractions were the most in any game since 2014 when Portland and Spokane combined for 33 flags.

-Shane Carden tied his career-high with six touchdown passes for Baltimore.

-The Brigade set a franchise-record by scoring 63 points in what turned out to be their first ever home win in their history.

-Kendal Thompkins’ kick return that proved to be the game-winner for the Brigade was the second kickoff return for a TD in Baltimore’s history. It was also the longest play in team history, surpassing the 50-yard kick-six by Varmah Sonie against Cleveland in Week 2.

AFL Week 8 Accolades

Top Passing Performances
Arvell Nelson (Cleveland) – 22/32, 310 Yards, 7 TDs, 1 INTShane Carden (Baltimore) – 21/30, 272 Yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs

Sean Brackett (Washington) – 26/44, 231 Yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
Dan Raudabaugh (Philadelphia) – 10/22, 148 Yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs

Top Receiving Performances
Quentin Sims (Cleveland) – 12 Receptions, 188 Yards, 5 TDs
Greg Carr (Washington) – 12 Receptions, 131 Yards, 4 TDs
Milton Williams (Baltimore) – 6 Receptions, 90 Yards, 3 TDs
Julian Talley (Baltimore) – 5 Receptions, 81 Yards, 2 TDs
Paul Browning (Baltimore) – 6 Receptions, 66 Yards, 1 TD

Top Rushing Performances
Sean Brackett (Washington) – 2 Carries, 12 Yards
Jeramie Richardson (Cleveland) – 5 Carries, 10 Yards, 1 TD
Shane Carden (Baltimore) – 4 Carries, 9 Yards, 1 TD
Rory Nixon (Baltimore) – 3 Carries, 8 Yards, 1 TD
Mykel Benson (Philadelphia) – 6 Carries, 7 Yards, 1 TD

Top Defensive Performances
Josh Victorian (Baltimore) – 5 Tackles, 1 INT
Rayshaun Kizer (Cleveland) – 3.5 Tackles, 1 INT
Dwayne Hollis (Philadelphia) – 8.5 Tackles
Beau Bell (Philadelphia) – 3 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks
James Romain (Philadelphia) – 3 Tackles, 4 Pass Breakups

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