The Tampa Bay Storm managed to secure a playoff berth Saturday night; however it was a bittersweet moment as the team came up short, losing to the Pittsburgh Power, 48-37, stretching its losing streak to six games.
The Storm offense could never get things going Saturday night as the defense stood tall and kept the Storm in it for the majority of the game.
Joe Hills scored the team’s first touchdown of the game on its fourth possession to cut the 14-point Power lead in half.
The Storm defense would score the game’s next nine points as Rodney Beamon sacked Power quarterback Shane Austin the end zone for a safety. On Pittsburgh’s next possession, R.J. Roberts scooped up a fumble as the Power were going in for a score and returned it 48 yards for a Storm Touchdown.
However, the Storm offense went four-and-out on the ensuing possession, putting a tired defense back on the turf, resulting in a Power touchdown.
The offense had plenty of opportunities to take control of the game, but in the end those missed chances were the Storm’s Achilles’ heel.
The Storm had a chance to head into the locker room at halftime with the lead but it failed to convert deep in Power territory before time ran out.
The second-half saw much of the same from the Storm with the defense running out of gas after holding the Power off the scoreboard during the third quarter. Pittsburgh erupted for 27 fourth quarter points sending the Storm to its sixth loss in as many games.
Even with the loss, the Storm managed to clinch an AFL record 22nd playoff berth thanks to a New Orleans VooDoo loss at the hands of the Jacksonville Sharks. It will be the team’s first playoff appearance since 2010, when it made a run to ArenaBowl XXIII.
The Storm will travel to Jacksonville next week to take on the South Division Champion Sharks in the regular season finale. Next Saturday’s game could be a preview of a first round playoff matchup depending on how things unfold in the final weekend of the season.