The blueprint was simple for the Outlaws as they headed into Portland Saturday night to play the Thunder. Win, and you’re in the playoffs in your 1st ever season in the AFL. Unfortunately, the execution was a lot harder to accomplish. Vegas came out sluggish, and found themselves down by 23 points before going through another QB change all before the 1st half had ended. When it was all said and done, the Outlaws were on the wrong side of a blowout and their playoff hopes now come down to the final game of the season.
Coming off the unexpected bye week as a result of the cancelled game with New Orleans, the Outlaws looked like a team out of sync. Dennis Havrilla got the start at QB after replacing JJ Raterink in the Outlaws last game in LA. Havrilla went 7-17 with 104 yards and 3 TD’s. But it was his 3 interceptions, and very weak looking arm that got him pulled before the final drive of the 1st half.
The Outlaws 1st drive came to an end after just 4 plays. Havrilla completed his 1st pass, but threw his first interception on 4th down. Portland took their first possession the length of the field for the TD and an early 7-0 lead.
Vegas found a small amount of flow when Havrilla hit Jason Willis for his 1st of 2 first half TD’s. But a very high snap killed any momentum that Vegas had gained. The high snap rolled to the Vegas 15 where it was recovered by Portland and returned for the safety. Instead of a tie game, the Outlaws were down 9-6 after scoring a TD. Not ideal.
On the first play of the 2nd, Havrilla found Clinton Solomon for the score to pull within 2. The two teams would trade TD’s after that score before the wheels completely fell off for Vegas.
With less than 4:00 left in the first, Portland took a 29-20 lead. On Vegas’ next play, Havrilla threw a pick 6 to put Portland up 36-20. Havrilla’s next pass would be his last. Trying to go deep, Havrilla threw another interception to set the Thunder up for their 3rd TD in the final 3 minutes.
JJ Raterink replaced Havrilla only to have his first pass dropped in the end zone for what should have been a LV TD. Raterink was able to move the Outlaws down the field, but came up empty on 2nd & G as the 1st half expired.
Duane Brooks made AFL history when he took the opening kickoff back for his AFL record 8th TD of the year.
The Outlaws answered with a Ladon Hudson TD followed by an onside kick recovery. But the offense, plagued by drops, was unable to do much with the extra possession and turned it over on downs.
The defense finally made a big play on Portland’s next possession when they picked off Kyle Rowley at the 5 yard line.
The Vegas offense wasted little time as Jason Willis got into the end zone for the 3rd time. The PAT was missed, but Vegas was able to close the gap to 50-33 and show that they weren’t going to lay down.
The momentum wouldn’t last. A failed onside kick, a Raterink interception, and two Portland TD’s sealed the Outlaws fate and gave Portland the 64-33 win.
So, where does that leave the two teams heading into week 20? Las Vegas still has the upper hand. A win gives them the final playoff spot. Portland needs to win next week in Arizona, AND needs Las Vegas to lose to Spokane.
A loss to Spokane would give Las Vegas a record of 0-4-1 (tie is the cancelled game with N.O.) since their last win on 6/28, and yet despite that horrific final 5 weeks they will back their way into the playoffs if Portland can’t beat Arizona.
Not the prettiest way to get in, but I’m sure every single player in that locker room would gladly take it.
One week to go. Who’s going to get in?