A funny bounce, a reversed call, a defensive stop or a pass that may have been caught or dropped. One play in a four-quarter game could have made a huge difference in the Utah Blaze's 49-44 loss to the Colorado Crush in the wild-card round of the Arena Football League playoffs.
"We didn't get the calls. We didn't get the bounces. We didn't make the plays," Blaze coach Danny White said.
To win in a game that has so little room for error, things have to go a team's way. Each time there was a big situation, it seemed things went against Utah.
"There were five or six plays, that were pivotal plays, that pretty much all went against us," White added.
He talked about an interception given up by the Blaze toward the end of the third quarter. The team had a chance to expand on its 31-28 lead, but the turnover led to the Crush going back up 35-31.
There was a fourth-down play toward the end of the first half that didn't go the way of the home team. With the Blaze leading 24-14 and under 30 seconds to play, Aaron Boone appeared to make a spectacular catch to convert on fourth-and-long, but the pass was ruled incomplete. Colorado scored just a couple plays later to close the gap to 24-21 at the break.
The biggest turn of events, however, came with just under three minutes remaining in the game. Colorado had just scored to take a 42-37 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball took a funny hop off the back netting, then off the turf and wound up in the hands of Colorado's John Syptak.
"Even before they kicked it I knew I was in a little vulnerable situation," return man J'Sharlon Jones said. "We had our hands team out. I didn't have anybody with me and I knew it. Without anyone behind me, I had to play it a little bit differently. I was a little far away from it. I obviously should have been a little closer. That's the kind of bounces that it takes, and seasons break on things like that.
"If you look at some of the games that we won like Chicago and even Colorado, that happened to them," Jones added. "Hitting the bar and getting the ball. It went our way and we used it. This time, it went against us."
Unfortunately for the Blaze, too many things went against them. Perhaps if even one of those plays had been in their favor, it could have changed the outcome. Even with lady luck seemingly against it, a team still has to execute.
"In the playoffs, it's the team that beats itself," White said.Now, the Blaze have the entire offseason to beat up on themselves for their missed opportunities.
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