|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|
Despite a miserable 48-37 loss to Pittsburgh Saturday the Tampa Bay Storm are in the playoffs.
Thanks to defeats by both Orlando and New Orleans in close games, the Storm actually maintained their No. 3 seed despite a sixth straight loss and a 7-10 record. New Orleans' defeat to Jacksonville, which finished right before the end of the first half at the Forum, put Tampa Bay into the playoffs. Orlando's defeat kept the Storm in control of the first Wild Card.
"Right now, we're not playoff worthy," said a fuming head coach Dave Ewart, who called the game embarassing.
The miserable performance took place in front of a crowd of 16,118 -- highest total for any league game in two seasons.
Considering the opponent had lost seven in a row and was coming off a 78-20 defeat in San Jose, and had a third-string quarterback (Shane Austin) who was distinctly below average... it's hard to argue.
For the team to have any hopes of actually winning a playoff game they'll have to come up with a much better offensive showing. Starting quarterback Randy Hippeard was awful, twice failing to cash in with a chance to make it a two-score game. Both times the Storm had the ball inside the 5-yard line.
The Storm wrap up at Jacksonville next week with a chance to secure the No. 3 seed. Orlando hosts New Orleans with the winner to get the other playoff spot. Orlando would jump up to No. 3 with a win and Storm defeat.
Rodney Beamon and R.J. Roberts provided two Tampa Bay defensive scores with a safety and a 48-yard fumble return that gave the Storm a 16-14 lead. But the Storm turned it over six times on downs, didn't pick up a first down on its three drives, had a Chris Davis fumble returned for the game's first score and allowed six sacks.
Tampa Bay couldn't even take advantage of a 7-0 penalty advantage through three quarters. Still when Hippeard found Davis for a 19-yard touchdown pass early with 10:30 remaining the Storm held a 30-28 advantage.
But Pittsburgh took it right back with an amazing diving catch by Tyrone Collins, who rolled into the end zone for a 44-yard score. Replay showed that he likely trapped the ball on the turf but Ewart was hesitant to throw the red flag after the first replay, and while he was readying for a second look the Power rushed to the line to kick the extra point.
That proved costly as the Storm were stopped on the next drive, Pittsburgh took over and extended its lead to 42-30.
Jason Chery did provide a great highlight on the next drive, making a hustling catch for a TD after a ball had flown through Joe Hills' hands nad bounced off the net with :55 left. Tampa Bay was forced to onsides kick, Pittsburgh recovered and Austin ran in for the putaway TD.
Hippeard was just 25 of 45 throwing. Hills had a down night for him with seven catches for just 49 yards and two touchdowns. Davis had 10 grabs for 88 yards.
Austin in three seasons of play at Hawaii threw for exactly two touchdows each year, and in his short AFL stint had a dreadful touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio of 8-6.
Early on dropped third-down passes thwarted the Storm as Pittsburgh went out to a 14-0 lead.
Tampa Bay might end up playing in Jacksonville on back-to-back weeks. Philadelphia's huge win late Saturday in San Jose kept the Soul in the No. 1 spot in the American Conference. If the standings remain as they are now the third-seeded Storm would open the playoffs at No. 2 Jacksonville.
Regardless of the opponent the Storm know their playoff opener will be on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 7 o'clock. They will travel either to Philly or Jacksonville.
New Orleans and Orlando will play for the remaining available playoff spot.