The Storm came into the first round of the Arena Football League postseason looking for an upset against the American Conference-leading Philadelphia Soul.
But a rough start in the first half was too much to overcome in a 63-41 season-ending loss on Sunday night in Allentown, Penn.
The Storm (2-15) contained Philadelphia’s league-best offense, but completing plays and scoring with their own offense proved to be what hurt them in the end.
Philadelphia (14-3) started fast, scoring twice early to take a two-score lead out of the gate. But a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tampa Bay quarterback Jason Boltus to T.T. Toliver with six seconds left in the first quarter helped close the gap.
Defensive back Cortez Stubbs tied the game for the Storm in the second quarter, intercepting a pass by Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh at the Philadelphia 15-yard line and returning it for the score.
A Lonnie Outlaw touchdown followed by another by Darius Reynolds, however, put Philadelphia up by two scores again after the Storm turned the ball over on downs.
Boltus was also intercepted on a last-ditch effort to score in the first half. A sack by Everett Dawkins and quick defense play by defensive back James Harrell stopped the Soul from adding on to their 28-14 lead going into halftime.
While the Storm made a furious comeback attempt in the second half, the missed opportunity to score before the break had them playing catch-up the rest of the night at PPL Center.
After the Soul scored first in the third, the 39-year-old Toliver came through with a picture-perfect touchdown catch, and Kendrick Ings added another on a 38-yard score.
Stubbs led Tampa Bay’s defense with three tackles. Nick Addison had an interception return for eight yards.
Boltus completed 13-of-33 passes for 199 yards and five touchdowns. His leading receiver was Ings, who caught six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
The Storm, whose league-record fifth and final ArenaBowl championship came in 2003, will look to recapture its past success next season. As the oldest and one of the most-decorated teams in league history, it certainly knows what it takes to get there.