The Arizona Rattlers came into their Week three match-up against the Tampa Bay Storm having won their first two games by an average of 46.5 points. The amazing part of that stat is both of those games came on the road at Portland and at Los Angeles. But this was their home opener at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, the place where they have won five straight openers. Last night’s game would prove to be no different as Nick Davila and company overwhelmed Tampa Bay to a 60-27 victory in front of almost 15 thousand fans.
Let’s not kid ourselves when we think about the match-up between Arizona and Tampa Bay. Arizona will be favored in every game they play the rest of the season, while being most everyone’s Arena Bowl favorite. On the other side you have Tampa Bay, who is every bit of 0-3 that their record shows. Without saying it, Head Coach Lawrence Samuels sent out a message to the locker room and the rest of the AFL. Tampa Bay has no chance with Jonathan Bane at quarterback. Jason Boltus was brought back on Wednesday and started a game on Saturday against the league’s best defense. The rust was prevalent in Boltus as he finished 11 of 37 for 186 yards with 3 TD’s and an interception. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, he wasn’t able to set his feet on most of his throws as guys like Tyre Glasper and Damien Borel were in his face all night. Tampa Bay finished the night with 11 drives on offense, four of those went for points. That means they had seven drives that finished with either a turnover, downs, or the half. The opponent had a lot to do with those numbers, but if you want to compete in this league, you have to be more successful than that. Luckily for Tampa Bay, they have two weeks to get Boltus up to speed before hosting Jacksonville in Week five.
On the other side of the ball, Arizona continued to do what it does best, which is score points. And speaking of drives, Arizona also finished with 11 and nine of those went for touchdowns while one was a fumble at the 1 yard line. That is the gold standard for efficiency in the Arena Football League. Until teams can start making Davila uncomfortable, they are going to continue to score at will. Scoring at will is what Rod Windsor continues to do, he caught eight touchdowns the first two games and added another four last night. You know teams are game planning to stop him and they still can’t. Two of Windsor’s touchdowns came on passes where there wasn’t a defender within five yards of him. Coach Guy’s play calling every week proves to be one of the best in the league. In each of the three games played this year they have won by more than 30 points, but also each margin of victory has gone down. If there is a team to put up enough points to compete with Arizona, it will be Jacksonville. Next week’s game against the Sharks will show whether any team will be able to make the Rattlers sweat a little bit or will Arizona just bully their way to a sixth Arena Bowl Championship.
At the end of the day, what we say last night was the team who could very easily be a five time defending champion going up against a make shift team on their third quarterback. Everyone expected Arizona to go out there and embarrass the Storm, but the encouraging sign to come out of it was that with Jason Boltus, the Storm might have a fighting chance against the other six teams in the league outside of Arizona. It will be interesting to see how Tampa Bay comes out after the bye, it couldn’t have come at a better time. While Arizona continues on a torrid pace to avenge last year’s National Conference Championship defeat at the hands of the now defunct San Jose SaberCats. The Rattlers are on a mission and we are all just witnesses along for the ride.
Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Nick Davila (AZ)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Tyre Glasper (AZ)
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Rod Windsor(AZ)
Cutters Catch of the Game: Mykel Benson (AZ) 1 handed catch
AFL Highlight of the Game: Tyre Glasper (AZ) fumble recovery for TD