TAMPA — Turnovers have plagued Tampa Bay all season. Friday night was no exception.
The Storm turned the ball over a season-high five times as Tampa Bay dropped below .500 again with a 46-43 loss to division rival Jacksonville before 14,201 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"It's super-frustrating," Storm quarterback Brett Dietz said. "We've been calling out the defense and telling them they need to step up, and then the offense dropped the ball."
Tampa Bay (2-3) had a shot to win the game on the final drive, but DeAndrew Rubin fumbled after the catch inside the Jacksonville 20-yard line with 25 seconds to play. Jacksonville (4-1) recovered and ran out the clock, handing Tampa Bay its first home loss of the season.
"It was our game to win," Storm coach Tim Marcum said.
Trailing 43-38, Sharks quarterback Aaron Garcia found Sale' Key on a short touchdown pass, and Bernard Morris ran in the two-point conversion to make it 46-43 Sharks with 36 seconds to play.
Tampa Bay got the ball back and moved into scoring range, but Rubin was stripped on a crossing route. The win moved the Sharks into sole possession of first place, two games in front of the third-place Storm.
"We were in position to be able to throw the ball in the end zone to some cats who can really go up and get the ball," Marcum said. "(Rubin) was the hero last week with all the touchdowns … but you can't (turn the ball over) like that. This is arena football."
The Storm has turned the ball over 11 times in its first five games and nine times in its three losses. Dietz, who came into the game with just three interceptions on the season, threw a pair of first-half picks.
"Two interceptions in the first quarter?" Dietz said. "You just can't do that."
Dietz finished 22-for-35 for 293 yards and five touchdowns. Rubin had a team-high eight catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Tyrone Timmons caught seven passes, including a pair of touchdowns.
"It's totally on the offense, myself included," Dietz said. "You can't win a game like that in this league with five turnovers."
Tampa Bay's next two games are on the road, where it is winless this season. The Storm travels to Bossier City in Louisiana next Saturday and Orlando on May 28.