The Philadelphia Soul emerged victorious over the Orlando Predators on a thrilling last-minute desperation touchdown pass from Dan Raudabaugh to Ryan McDaniels that sealed the 70-63 opening night victory for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia can be proud of their hard-fought team victory. In the opening weeks of Arena League Football you can see players making small mistakes, usually ones that you wouldn’t make mid-season, and Philadelphia was certainly one those teams. Although the Soul did a lot of things right, ultimately leading to the win, they have a lot to work on (especially defensively). Below, are some key positives and negatives from the Soul’s win at Amway Center.
- Philadelphia’s arial games was absolutely outstanding against Orlando. Although it was evident early that Raudabaugh and Co. weren’t completely in-sync with overthrows and missed routes to his receivers, they resolved that issue quickly and performed sensational. Raudabaugh, Miami, completed 30-of-48 passes for 422 yards, with 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. McDaniel and Marco Thomas each had 10+ receptions for three touchdowns.
- The Soul were able to win last night’s game without having their starting kicker Carlos Martinez, who went down with an apparent groin injury in the opening minutes of the game. Philadelphia was stuck in a predicament all night going for two-point conversions and had almost cost them the game. In the AFL, it’s important to have a reliable kicker who can place the ball so well on kick-offs and the Soul had learned it the hard way.
- Philadelphia were extremely fortunate to come away with this victory. If it were not for the illegal defense penalty against Orlando that negated Raudabuagh’s interception in the final seconds, we would be talking about the Predators, not the Soul.
- Philadelphia was unable to run the ball effectively against the Predators, which limited Clint Dolezel’s play calling strictly to passing the football. Not having the presence of Derrick Ross in the backfield to handle the ball off to certainly is still having it’s effects felt. If Raudabaugh plays every week like he did last night against Orlando however, Philadelphia may not have to worry about a haphazard running game.
- Philadelphia’s newly put together secondary was absolutely torched by quarterback Randy Hippeard. WR Justin Hilton and former Soul receiver Larry Brackins were burning pass the defensive backs, often times wide-open in stride for the touchdown. Hippeard finished 20-of-25 with 220 yard, with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception. James Romain‘s big pick-6 late in the fourth quarter was a lone bright spot in the defense. Boy do they miss Rayshaun Kizer.
- There were times in the game that Philadelphia would take some knick-knack pass interference or holding penalties, probably because they were often beat on routes by the Predators’ wide receivers. As a result, it would often setup Orlando with great field position (shown by the few throws Hippeard had) and often capitalized on it. Philadelphia needs to better defend and avoid costly penalties and have teams earn their yards, not given to them.