TAMPA — As Hank Edwards remembers it, Tampa Bay's current win streak started with the team meeting that never was.
Trailing by three with less than a minute to play against Jacksonville on May 7, the Storm fumbled inside the Sharks 20 and lost 46-43. That dropped Tampa Bay to 2-3, and the veterans decided a team meeting was in order.
Then coach Tim Marcum got wind of the plan.
"He said team meetings are for losers," Edwards said.
The meeting never happened. The Storm hasn't lost since, and Edwards is a big reason a sixth league championship is possible.
Tonight, Tampa Bay (8-3) looks to extend its win streak to seven and move closer to a playoff berth (though it cannot clinch) when it hosts Midwest Division leader Chicago (9-2).
"I think we're the team to beat," Edwards said.
Edwards' play of late has given the second-year receiver plenty of reason to be confident. Last week, he became the first Storm player to eclipse 200 receiving yards in a game, hauling in 10 passes for 209 and three scores in a 78-39 drubbing of Bossier-Shreveport.
That earned Edwards the league's offensive player of the week honors and helped move Tampa Bay into sole possession of first in the Southern Division.
"I told my fiancee after that Jacksonville game that we weren't going to lose another game the rest of the season," Edwards, 27, said. "She said she'd heard that before. But I truly believe we have the talent and experience to do it."
For the season, Edwards has 77 receptions for 1,166 yards and 25 touchdowns.
He has been Brett Dietz's deep man, complementing the underneath routes of Tyrone Timmons and blazing speed of DeAndrew Rubin (who will sit out tonight with a pulled hamstring). Among receivers with at least 50 receptions, Edwards leads the league with an average of 15.1 yards.
"He just plays so tall and can really go up to sky for the ball," Marcum said of the 6-foot-3 Edwards. "And he's finally healthy and near full speed."
Though he said he's "not quite 100 percent" physically, it's the best Edwards has felt all season after dealing with various leg injuries. He has missed only one game (May 15), but Edwards was visibly hampered early.
"I just kept having these knickknack injuries that kept me from going full speed and limited my range of motion," he said.
"Lately, I've been feeling better each week."
Though the team meeting never materialized, Edwards said the Storm's veteran presence has been the glue that has kept things rolling.
"This turnaround has been the work of many," he said. "To me, we're the favorites to win it all."