|March 23||vs Jacksonville||
|March 30||vs Cleveland||W 69-37|
|April 6||AT Utah||
|April 12||vs San Antonio||L 36-52|
|April 20||AT Orlando||
|April 27||AT Spokane||W 70-62|
|May 4||vs New Orleans||
|May 10||AT San Jose||L 34-64|
|May 18||AT Pittsburgh||
|May 25||vs Philadelphia||L 55-73|
|June 1||AT Iowa||
|June 8||vs Orlando||L 48-55|
|June 15||AT New Orleans||
|June 22||vs Chicago||L 49-50|
|July 6||vs Spokane||
|July 13||AT San Antonio||L 42-68|
|July 20||vs Pittsburgh||
|July 27||AT Jacksonville||7:00pm|
CHICAGO, IL (AFL Press Release) – The Tampa Bay Storm (6-3) host the Philadelphia Soul (4-4) this week in “NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday” action at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. The matchup that could potentially be repeated in the American Conference playoffs.
As it stands now, the two teams would meet in the opening round of the postseason, with the Soul holding the No. 2 seed as the East Division leaders, while the Storm fit in as the No. 3 seed based on a tiebreaker with the Jacksonville Sharks (6-3). Despite the potential to be a lower seed, the Storm boast the superior record and enter Saturday’s matchup having won four of their last five games. Their latest effort, a 62-34 victory over the Pittsburgh Power (2-6), saw quarterback Adrian McPherson set a single-game franchise record by completing 90.9 percent of his pass attempts. He began the contest with seven straight completions and ultimately completed 20-of-22 for 240 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. McPherson set the Storm single-season record for rushing touchdowns in Week 9 with his 24th dash into the end zone. He broke the League record for rushing scores by a quarterback, previously set at 22, a week earlier.
While McPherson has already made history this season, Philadelphia fullback Derrick Ross looks to become the League’s all-time leader in rushing yards this weekend. Currently sitting on 1,502 yards in just his third season in the League, Ross is just 69 yards shy of the all-time mark, set by Bo Kelly. Of course, Ross has set plenty of League records in the past. In 2011, he set the League mark for rushing yards in a single season, with 622 for the Dallas Vigilantes. He then followed coach Clint Dolezel up to the City of Brotherly Love, where he broke his own mark with 645 yards in 2012 for the Soul. Kelly, in 12 seasons in the League, never topped 250 rushing yards in a campaign. While Ross’ yardage numbers are down thus far this season, he does have 18 touchdowns on the ground, which puts him on pace for 40.5 this season, half a touchdown shy of Dan Alexander’s record of 41, set in 2007 with the Nashville Kats. Ross currently owns the second- and third-highest single-season touchdown totals in League history with 39 in his rookie season and 32 in his second season.
Ross is assisted by the best offensive line in Arena Football. The Soul have surrendered just two sacks this season, five fewer than any other team in the League. Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Philadelphia has surrendered just seven sacks. Arizona is second best with 17 sacks surrendered during that time span. Tampa Bay has surrendered 51 sacks during that period. The Soul are led by center Brennen Carvalho, who earned First-Team All-Arena honors with the Arizona Rattlers in 2011, Christian Johnson and Jason Jones, who started just one game for Pittsburgh last season. Carvalho and Johnson bring plenty of experience to the table, however, having started a combined 30 games for Philadelphia last season.
Standing under center, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh has managed to limit his turnovers of late. After tossing six interceptions in the Soul’s first four games of the season, he has just one in their last four. He has posted a passer rating of at least 87.5 in every game this season and has reached triple digits in six out of eight games. He is blessed with one of the top receiving corps in the game. Tiger Jones, per usual, leads the way with six straight games of 100-plus receiving yards, but what has stood out most of all is the Soul’s balance. In every game, at least three Philadelphia receivers have hauled in four-plus catches. Rookie Ryan McDaniel is averaging 68.2 yards per game, while Andrae Thurman had seven-plus receptions in three straight games earlier this season.
Last week, the Storm welcomed Joe Hills back into their receiving corps after he briefly left the team to attend the Carolina Panthers’ rookie mini-camp. He made a quick impact with six receptions for 79 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch to put Tampa Bay up 28-14 midway through the second quarter. Hills, who previously led the League in receiving yards per game, still ranks fourth with 121.1 per contest. His 15.7 yards per reception rank second in the League, just a decimal point behind Fred Williams of the San Jose SaberCats.
This game goes beyond the offensive side of the ball, however. Last week, the Storm pulled away behind a defense that held the Power to two touchdowns over their last seven drives. During that span, they forced a turnover on downs and came away with a fumble recovery and three interceptions. The Storm are now tied for the League lead with 18 interceptions, led by Chris Smith, whose seven picks place him second in the League. They are tied for the League lead with 11 fumble recoveries and have a League-best 29 takeaways. That could spell trouble for a Philadelphia squad that has fumbled the ball a League-worst 11 times in 2013. Though Ross, once maligned for fumbling the ball too often, hasn’t lost a fumble since the season’s opening weekend at Arizona, Raudabaugh and McDaniel each let one slip in last week’s win over the Orlando Predators, and the Soul have at least one fumble in six consecutive weeks. The squad has lost a fumble in six out of eight games this season.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia, which led the League in takeaways last season, has come on a bit of late. After recording just four interceptions in their first five games, the Soul have five in their last three, as LaRico Stevenson and Rayshaun Kizer have each tallied two picks over their last three games. Kizer failed to record an interception in his first five games of the season after tying for third in the League last season with 11.
The Storm, who have played four of their last five away from the friendly confines of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, look to improve on a 2-2 home record. The team has already lost as many home games in 2013 as they did all of last year, when they won their first six home games and finished with a 7-2 record at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Meanwhile, the Soul, with a League-best 11-2 road record since the start of the 2012 season, have won nine straight away from home against American Conference foes. The Soul offense has scored at least 50 points in eight straight road games. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. CBS Sports Network will broadcast an AFL National Game of the Week on Saturday nights for the entire regular season and postseason through the semifinal round. The ArenaBowl XXVI Championship Game will air on the CBS Television Network on August 17, 2013.