Week 17 preview: Steel at Storm

Jul 19, 2016 Tampa Bay Storm

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (1-13, 0-7) hosts the Portland Steel (2-12, 0-7) this Saturday, July 23.  Fans will be able to catch all of the action as Darek Sharp and Ian Beckles make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ.  The game can also be streamed on the Lightning Power Play through the iHeartRadio app.  The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.  Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. ET.

This is the fourth meeting between Tampa Bay and the Portland franchise, and second meeting in Tampa.  Portland leads the overall series 2-1, with the Steel taking the first meeting of 2016 by a score of 68-35.  Portland has outscored the Storm by a total of 46 points over the course of the three game series.

This week’s matchup will be pivotal for the Storm.  The team showed signs of life versus the Philadelphia Soul this past weekend, limiting a team that averages 61.1 points per game to 56.  While 5.1 points may not seem like a lot, it’s the way the Storm approached the game defensively that made the difference.  The team forced Philadelphia into several turnovers, including a forced fumble and an interception. 

Poised to keep the momentum going, the team will set its sights on the Steel.  This will be easier said than done as the Storm will be playing its third game in 13 days, a tough go for any team.

The Storm looked good offensively this past weekend.  Quarterback Adam Kennedy stepped in under center when starting quarterback Jason Boltus went down with injury.  Kennedy completed 17-of-26 passes for 241 yards and five touchdowns.  His top target was none other than 13-year veteran, and All-Arena candidate, T.T. Toliver.  Toliver led all receivers with 12 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns.  The future AFL Hall of Famer leads the team with 105 catches for 1,456 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Storm will look to get back on track and limit the mistakes that have plagued them over the past few weeks.  One could see the defense starting to come together with Cortez Stubbs leading the way in the backfield.  Last week also saw Plant H.S. product James Harrell reel in his third interception of the season.  He is tied with Stubbs for the team lead and currently has 16 career interceptions placing him in fourth place all-time in Storm franchise history.

Portland enters the game after earning its second win of the season over the Jacksonville Sharks.  The Steel defense put forth a tremendous defensive effort, stopping the Sharks’ high-powered offense several times, including a key goal line stand to seal the win.  The Storm will need to play perfectly on offense in order to score on what has become one of the top defenses in the League.

While the team only has one win, the Storm could be turning the corner at the perfect time.  With a win over the Arizona Rattlers, and a near win over the Soul, Tampa Bay has shown it can play with the best teams in the League.  With a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality, it’s just a matter of which team will show up on Saturday night.