So this is what losing feels like?
The Pittsburgh Power (15-4) lost for the first time since April 26th in Cleveland but unfortunately this one came in the playoffs and ends a magical turnaround season for the team.
After notching 15 wins, tied for third highest in league history, Pittsburgh was hoping to earn their first playoff win over the Orlando Predators (12-7) but they didn’t make enough key plays to secure a win and will head home for the season following a 56-48 loss to Orlando Sunday afternoon. Orlando advances to the American Conference Championship to face Cleveland (18-1) next week
Pittsburgh missed a golden opportunity to stop Orlando up 7-0 and facing fourth and goal. Jake Killeen broke in fast against quarterback Bernard Morris and appeared to wrap him up for a crucial sack and stop but Morris managed to escape and throw a touchdown pass to Greg Carr to tie the game up at 7.
Bernard Morris, a former Power signal caller, was definitely the player of the game today with 221 yards passing, 44 yards rushing, and eight total touchdowns (four passing, four rushing). Greg Carr proved why he should be the AFL Rookie of the Year, by catching 10 passes for 97 yards and four touchdowns.
A crucial sequence in the 3rd quarter saw the Power get a defensive stop but Tommy Grady threw his only interception of the game to give the ball right back to Orlando. Pittsburgh would get another stop late in the game and appeared to be set up to have the ball last to try to tie the game but Orlando attempted and recovered an onsides kick with a minute left and was able to ice the game.
Grady finished the game 18 of 30 for 240 yards and 7 touchdowns, but the interception was a big difference in the game. Pittsburgh was also flagged 11 times for 85 yards and was also unable to convert any fourth downs after being one of the best in the AFL all season long. Pittsburgh’s pass rush was unable to rattler Morris all day, registering zero sacks. Reliable kicker Julian Rauch missed a PAT and had another blocked.
It all adds up to a disappointing end to an otherwise strong season. After going a combined 9-27 the last two seasons the team was able to turn it around and make the playoffs for the first time. It’ll be interesting to see what offseason changes the team will make in terms of roster construction but it’s nice to head into an offseason brimming with optimism for once.
Photo Courtesy Pittsburgh Power Football Facebook Page