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 starting a new season with nothing to lose

TAMPA — Lawrence Samuels won three Arena Football League championships as a player with the Storm. Each one of his rings has a large stone and engraved on it the year of the title and the Storm's record that season.

What if the Storm, which he now coaches, can pull off the unlikely feat of winning the title this year?

"I'd request not putting the records on these rings" said Samuels.

Despite finishing with the worst record in team history, 2-14, the Storm begins its quest for the franchise's sixth AFL title when it plays at Philadelphia tonight in the playoffs.

"They're going to get our best, and I think our best give us a real good shot," Samuels said. "I'm telling you, don't ever count this team out."

For the first time in league history, all eight teams qualified for the playoffs. That meant the regular season amounted to nothing more than jockeying for postseason seeding.

"We're starting a whole new season, and the guys understand that," Samuels said. "It's a three-game tournament right now."

In a league predicated on offense, the Storm was by far the worst team in the regular season. Tampa Bay scored a league-low 568 points, 102 behind No. 7 Portland and 500 behind Arizona's AFL-best 1,068.

"We've done so much changing in terms of lineups and personnel throughout the season, but I think we have the right group in place right now," Samuels said. "We've been building the last couple games, and we have some weapons that can cause some people some trouble."

Philadelphia, on the other hand, has been historically consistent of late. The American Conference champion Soul scored a touchdown in each quarter the past two years, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat in back-to-back seasons.

But all the Soul's regular-season success — and the Storm's failure — is now meaningless.

"We're all 0-0 right now," Storm linebacker Jimmy Gordon said. "No matter what your (regular-season) record was, if you lose now, you go home."

Tampa Bay flashed enough this season to buoy fans' hope heading into the playoffs. It narrowly lost to the Soul 56-51 on July 23 in a game it probably should have won. One of Tampa Bay's two wins came against National Conference champion Arizona, and the Storm had 12-4 Orlando pinned down on the road before a fourth-quarter collapse.

"We've shown we have the ability to play with the best teams in the league," Gordon said.

And the pressure is squarely on the favored Soul.

"We have nothing to lose," Gordon said. "It's like a fight and they are the big guy. If the big guy wins a fight against a small person, he looks like an idiot because he was supposed to win. If the small person wins, the big guy looks like an idiot because the small person beat him."

If Tampa Bay can go 3-0 to win the title, Samuels said he plans on engraving that record into this year's ring.

"You know what would be perfect on there instead?" he said. "3-0."

.TONIGHT

Storm at Philadelphia

6, PPL Center

TV/radio: ESPN2; 1250-AM

Records: Storm 2-14, Philadelphia 13-3

Storm starting a new season with nothing to lose 08/06/16 [Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2016 8:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …