The Birmingham Iron made their way to Atlanta to help the Atlanta Legends kick off their home slate in their first home game of the season. And the Iron played the role of party crashers, coming in to Georgia State Stadium and winning 28-12 and leaving 3-0, disappointing the nearly 11,000 people in attendance. With the loss, Atlanta starts the season 0-3, and it is quickly looking like the Eastern Conference is a two-team race, with the Orlando Apollos also moving to 3-0 after their victory against the Memphis Express on Saturday.
Defense Wins Championships
In my weekly preview, I said I would be watching to see if the Iron would emerge from the weekend with their number #1 scoring defense intact. After allowing on 12 points in this one, they have only allowed 21 points all season long, and while they are no longer the #1 defense in yards allowed – surrendering 328 passing yards to Matt Simms can have that effect – they still look like one of the better defenses in the league.
They force four turnovers in this one – three interceptions and a fumble – allowing them to win the game despite being outgained by over 100 yards on offense. Quarterback Luis Perez was his typical ball-protecting self – though he did throw his first interception of the season – and Trent Richardson was death by 17 cuts, averaging his three yards per carry but scoring three short touchdowns to move his league-leading total to six on the season.
Maybe One Run Play Won’t Hurt
The Legends decided that this was the game they would break the single-game record for pass attempts, with Matt Simms throwing for 328 yards despite those three interceptions. He completed 28 passes to 11 different targets, with a long of 48 yards to Seantavius Jones. He also threw in a touchdown pass, though it was meaningless, coming in the last two minutes with his team down by 22 points. It did close the final margin of defeat.
The Legends all but abandoned the run in this one. It didn’t help that they got behind late and needed to catch up. Matt Simms was also their leading rusher (2 carries for 27 yards), and it’s never a good sign when your quarterback leads the team in rushing because of a couple of scrambles. Non-quarterbacks combined for 16 yards on 12 carries, a paltry yards per carry that even Trent Richardson can beat on his worst days of falling down on first contact. The Legends now have the worst rushing offense in the league, though they are only five yards behind the Iron.
Early Week 4 Outlook
The Legends are back out on the road again next week, and again they are playing a top defense in the Arizona Hotshots (2-1). This time, however, the Hotshots boast a solid offense, unless the back injury suffered on Saturday by quarterback John Wolford prevents his participation.
The Iron return home for a game against the San Antonio Commanders (1-2), who are coming off the biggest loss of Week 3 to the San Diego Fleet. The Commanders will be looking to keep pace with in the muddled Western Conference, while the Iron will be attempting to keep up with the Apollos.
Until next time…