Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Storm must win, hope for playoff help

TAMPA — It all comes down this.

The Storm will be fighting for its playoff life tonight when it hosts Cleveland at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in its regular-season finale.

"It's about finishing strong and on a good note," first-year coach Lawrence Samuels said. "We want to play well in front of our home fans on fan appreciation night and get into the playoffs."

Tampa Bay (8-9) must beat the Gladiators (16-1) and get help to reach the postseason for the second straight season. The Storm also needs Pittsburgh (14-3) to beat Philadelphia (9-8), which would secure for it the No. 4 slot in the American Conference playoffs. The Storm holds the tiebreaker with Philadelphia should both finish with the same record.

"Cleveland is a veteran team that plays like a veteran team, and we can't afford to make any mistakes against them," Samuels said.

Adding to the drama is the timing of the schedule. The Philadelphia-Pittsburgh game kicks off at 5, meaning the Storm will likely know if its game counts for anything more than pride during the first quarter.

"I'm sure I'll have someone in my ear keeping me updated, but honestly, I'm going to be focusing on what we need to do," Samuels said. "But I'm sure the guys are going to be following what's going on regardless of what we tell them."

Scoreboard-watching aside, the Storm will have to find a way to bounce back following a short week and a cross-country trip. Tampa Bay lost 55-52 at Spokane on Monday night and is on a three-game losing skid that started with a 48-41 loss at Cleveland.

"Yes, it was a tough loss (at Spokane), and the short week is rough with the travel," Samuels said. "We tried to give the players more rest than usual this week. At this time of the season, the game is more mental than physical."

The Storm has lost the past three games by a combined 19 points, and all three of its opponents have locked up playoff slots.

"It's not like we have been playing bad," Samuels said. "To be honest, it's really just been one or two mishaps that have cost us."

Samuels expects quarterback Randy Hippeard to play. Hippeard, who has been battling knee injuries all season, twice was helped off the field against Spokane and spent much of the second half on his backside.

"All we can do (tonight) is control what we can control,'' Samuels said. "Whatever is going to happen in Pittsburgh is going to happen, so there's no point of worrying about it."

end of an era: A man widely considered one of the greatest Indoor Football League quarterbacks in history is calling it a career. Sioux Falls' Chris Dixon, 32, said in a statement Thursday he is retiring after a decadelong career, during which he threw for more than 25,000 yards, 600 touchdowns and only 70 interceptions. He cited his age and family considerations. Dixon, who has five IFL titles and was named the league's most valuable player three times, is on the roster of the Storm, joining Tampa Bay after leading Sioux Falls to its third IFL crown June 28.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tonight

Storm vs. Cleveland

When/where: 7:30, Tampa Bay Times Forum

TV/radio: BHSN; 1250-AM

Storm must win, hope for playoff help 07/25/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2014 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp

    Blogs

    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  2. What’s wrong with Blake Snell’s fastball?

    Blogs

    Blake Snell's MLB tenure to this point has been inconsistent, to say the least. As a rookie in 2016, he posted a 3.54 ERA, but his Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell will start tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His performance will depend on his four-seam fastball.

  3. Jameis Winston could set Bucs' career TD record in 2017

    Blogs

    How often can a player reset an NFL franchise's career passing record before his 24th birthday? Jameis Winston has a shot to do that with the Bucs this fall.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown last season, could set Tampa Bay's career record for touchdown passes in just his third NFL season.
  4. Dan Girardi the latest defenseman on Lightning radar

    Blogs

    Veteran Dan Girardi is the latest pending free agent defenseman to draw interest from the Lightning, the Times has confirmed.

    Dan Girardi, 33, spent the last 11 seasons with the Rangers, who bought him out this summer.