There is something truly special about the AAF. As each week passes, we have records created, records broken, comeback kids, nail-biting finishes, and the joy of simply rooting for the underdogs. Let’s face it, this entire league is made up of men looking for a second and sometimes even third chance at redemption.
Week 7 of the AAF brought us some refreshing and intense football. The Orlando Apollos got back to their old, winning-selves, defeating the Atlanta Legends, 36-6 to clinch the first playoff spot of the AAF. The San Antonio Commanders prove that their team and their fans are going to be electrifying through remaining three weeks of the season. The Arizona Hotshot are not simply quarterback, John Wolford, and receiver, Rashaad Ross, as they switched up the offense with a sprinkle of Trevor Knight. Finally, Johnny Manziel is perfect for the AAF and exactly what the Memphis Express needed, even though he wasn’t the quarterback who won the game.
Fantasy just got a whole lot better thanks to Monkey Knife Fight. With fast-paced games like Rapid Fire and Either/Or, it’s never been easier to play fantasy and win. New to MKF? Get Exclusive $100 Deposit Match + Free $5 Game
You can see the heart and the pride that these players wear on their sleeves. The intensity alone is fun to watch. It seems that each week brings more surprises for us fans to chew on.
So, let’s get to it.
(6-1) Orlando Apollos @ (2-5) Atlanta Legends
(Orlando 36 – Legends 6)
Let’s be honest. The Apollos needed a get-right win after their worst game of the season against the Arizona Hotshots last week. Atlanta could not have been a better team to matchup against for a win and to gain back some much needed confidence. No offense, Legends.
Last week, Garrett Gilbert showed that he can bleed with his worst numbers of the season to date. This week, he came back to form throwing 19 for 23, 217 yards and a touchdown, plus a rushing two point conversion. He had an 86.6% pass completion percentage, when last week it was a dismal 47.9% after averaging over 60% the first five weeks.
The Apollos also continue to improve on their run game, which was non-existent to start the season. Head coach Steve Spurrier integrated all three main backs into the playbook this week. De’Veon Smith bulldozed his way through the Legends’ defense with 13 carries for 40 yards, scoring not one, not two, but three touchdowns and a two point conversion. The nimble, D’Ernest Johnson, racked up 7 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown as well as 2 receptions for 27 yards. Even Akeem Hunt, saw more playing time this week with 9 carries for 39 yards. However, Hunt seemed to forget the importance of running north and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a huge loss.
Wide receiver, Charles Johnson, continues to lead the AAF in receiving yards, tacking on 31 more yards and touchdown.
Fake Pigskin Exclusive: Join Monkey Knife Fight and Get an Instant 100% Deposit Match PLUS a Free $5 Game!
To give the Legends some credit, they hung in there in the first half. In fact, neither Gilbert nor Aaron Murray, had a single incomplete pass in the first quarter.
However, after the half, Murray couldn’t connect with his receivers and their red zone offense simply cannot put points on the board. Matt Simms came back in the game after Murray was injured but the Legends couldn’t compete against the Orlando defense who had an interception and pick-six.
The Apollos proved they can bounce back even stronger while the target on their backs is getting bigger and bigger. This victory over Atlanta clinched a 1st ever AAF playoff spot for Orlando. Big surprise.
The Legends have a long way to go if they want to win in this league. As Cynthia Frelund, of the NFL Network pointed out, the teams who utilize deep, downfield connections win games. Aaron Murray has completed exactly zero.
(2-5) Salt Lake Stallions @ (5-2) San Antonio Commanders
(Commanders 19 – Stallions 15)
Oh man, the Stallions. Oy. This game was an uphill battle for the Salt Lake Stallions from the start. The points on both sides wasn’t something to write home about, the two teams were tied at 9-9 for a majority of the game. That score was a direct testament to both teams’ defenses.
The Stallions boast the best run defense in the AAF and have the leading sack monster, Karter Schult. Plus, the Stallions defense is one of the best at defending the red zone. Commanders’ quarterback, Logan Woodside, had to rely on 10 different pass catchers and lean less on his stud running backs, Kenneth Farrow II and Trey Williams.
As hard as it may have been for Woodside, nothing compared to what the Stallions had to face in this matchup. First, Woodside leads the AAF in pass completions at around 76% with wide receiver, Mekale McKay, as a constant downfield threat. The Commanders scoring percentage on drives is 36.9%, second only to the Apollos, at 47%. San Antonio also boasts the most total sacks as a defense and have De’Vante Bausby, who leads the AAF in interceptions.
Last but not least, San Antonio has the best fans. Period. Their attendance numbers have knocked on the 30,000 door at home and after four weeks on the road, the Alamodome hosted a record breaking 30,345 in attendance. They were loud, boisterous, loyal, and even had to quiet down while the offense was at work. That didn’t phase them. Instead, a small section turned on their phone’s flashlights and held them up like they were at a White Snake concert. That quickly spread around the entire stadium.
It was pretty epic.
Despite all these hurdles, quarterback, Josh Woodrum, put up a fight. He did an excellent job connecting with his tight end, Nick Truesdale, who is nearly perfect on the season. Terrell Newby, found the end zone for the only touchdown for the Stallions.
Even just a few mistakes can cost a win in such a close and evenly matched game. That is precisely what happened here. Penalties stalled the Stallions offense and a roughing the kicker flag on a field goal gave the Commanders another set of downs. Finally, after the Stallions drove down the field to score a touchdown, Woodrum makes a costly mistake to seal their fate. Attempting to throw for a two point conversion, Woodrum was intercepted for two more points for the Commanders.
It pains me to watch the Stallions come so close to winning to let it slip through fingers at the last second. They gave the Commanders a run for their money, but couldn’t get it done yet again.
The AAF, especially the Apollos, need to watch out for the Commanders as they steamroll into the upcoming weeks.
(3-4) San Diego Fleet @ (4-3) Arizona Hotshots
(Hotshots 32 – Fleet 15)
Yet another important game in the playoff run for both teams. Tied at 3-3 coming into week 7, each team wanted to improve their chances of solidifying their spot.
The Arizona Hotshot boasts the number one rushing offense in the AAF with Jhurell Pressley, Tim Cook, and Justin Stockton as well as the number two wide receiver, Rashaad Ross. Let’s not forget, quarterback, John Wolford, is second only to Garrett Gilbert, in passing yards.
The Hotshots came to win and put 23 points on the board before half time. Head coach, Rick Neuheisel, got creative and peppered the Fleet with some interesting uses of quarterback, Trevor Knight. Even after Ross went down in the first quarter, the Hotshots didn’t loose steam.
The Fleet were left on their heels after their first touchdown in the first quarter, which came on a muffed punt return by the Hotshots. They also got away with a touchdown after Marcus Baugh did his best impression of the 2008 DeSean Jackson, and nearly threw away a touchdown before breaking the plane. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t a touchdown. You decide.
Despite coming back at the end of the game, a missed field goal by the Fleet and a Woodrum interception sealed their fate. It was obvious the Fleet desperately missed Dontez Ford, their downfield threat. He injured both of his ankles in the week prior and wore a walking boot on one foot. The Fleet also utilized their three backs like the Hotshots, but after Ja’Quan Gardner went down the running game was severely lacking.
Let’s hope Gardner and Ford get healthy soon, for the Fleet’s sake. Ha! Oh, for Fleet’s sake.
(4-3) Birmingham Iron @ (2-5) Memphis Express
(Express 31 – Iron 25)
Game of the week! Welcome back to football, Johnny Manziel!
Ok, there are so many things going on here, I hardly know where to begin. This game wasn’t just about the fact Johnny Football is back playing American football, but it was the excitement and intensity that he brought to the game. Even just sitting on the bench, mind you.
It was like both teams on both sides of the ball suddenly woke up in week 7 and became explosive. Speaking of which, who is this person pretending to be Luis Perez, and what has he done with the original? Perez 2.0 went 16 for 37, 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He finally started getting better moving outside of the pocket as well. But, Perez. My man. You played baseball. Slide correctly, for crying out loud.
Of course, Trent Richardson, I see you. Heaven forbid you go a game with a touchdown. And a two point conversion.
However, the Express defense, who I mentioned came up with some big time stops last week, continues to improve and keep their team in the game. They allowed only 217 passing yards, keeping Perez at a 43.2% pass completion, and allowing a mere 83 rushing yards.
But, no matter how you dissect the game, it was all about Johnny Manziel. Just his mere presence had an effect on the Express as well as the Iron. Perhaps the number one recipient of this magical Manziel effect was former third-string quarter Brandon Silvers.
It was Silvers, not Manziel, who led the Express to a touchdown with only 24 seconds left on the clock. Silvers then delivers a strike to his favorite target, Reece Horn, for the two point conversion to tie the game.
I should probably mention that it’s the first overtime in AAF history. Each team gets a possession, starting at 1st and goal on the opponents 10-yard-line, and field goals are not allowed. This forced the Iron to go for it on 4th down but they couldn’t find the end zone.
So, it was Silvers, not Manziel, who delivered the clutch pass to Daniel Williams, to score in overtime and lead the Express to victory.
Where on Earth has this version of the Express been all year? Oh yeah… waiting for Johnny Football to come in and fire everyone up. Clearly, Silvers was playing to prove he has a right to the starting position for the Express. He was lights out in this game throwing 24 for 35, 266 yards, two touchdowns, two 2 point conversions and no interceptions. And it wasn’t just the numbers. He looked calm and completely unphased by this Manziel person was attempting to take his job.
Manziel, Shmamziel, says Silvers. No, I’m just kidding, he didn’t say that.
Oddly enough, the Express can still compete for a playoff spot. I am very interested to see how they continue the magical Manziel momentum through the rest of the season.
Upcoming Games AAF Week 8