WASHINGTON D.C. – After losing to the Valor in a close game on the road, and falling in a mistake-filled game at home, the expectation was that the matchup between the two and three-seed teams in this year’s Arena Football playoffs would be a back and forth battle.
It took approximately one half of football for that notion to go screaming out the window.
Led by a stalwart defensive effort, and playing one of their best offensive games all season, the Philadelphia Soul demolished the Washington Valor at Capital One Arena by a score of 69-33.
Soul Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh spread the ball around to five different receivers, but it was a familiar face making his return to the receiving corps that made all the difference.
Long-time Soul Wide Receiver Darius ‘Money’ Reynolds had eight catches for three touchdowns in the win. Speaking after the game, Reynolds said it just felt good to be back.
“I’ve been kind of waiting for that moment to happen,” said Reynolds, who had not played at wide receiver since the beginning of the season due to injury concerns. “But I’ve been patient with it, so just doing it [the] first game of the playoffs and to still be successful at it…it felt good to be back.”
Reynolds also said he was a bit mad at himself for dropping the first pass that came his way on a wide-open throw from Raudabaugh. But after catching a screen pass a few plays later, he buckled down and went to work.
‘He’s a good football player,” Raudabaugh said. “Still finding his rhythm, but he’s been in our system a long long time. Him and I have had a good rapport for a long time.”
Raudabaugh continued, saying, “it’s not just his athletic ability too, it’s his mental prowess. he’s a smart football player, does what we ask and you saw, he makes us better.”
Raudabaugh also had praise for the defense, which surrendered one of its lowest point totals this season, both regular and post-season. One major reason for that was James Romain.
The defensive back had three picks on the day, including one to seal the game at the end.
“We go against him every day in practice,” Radabaugh said. “He’s one of the best to ever do it. It’s hard to cover the high motion. Someone running at you with a head start, it’s hard to stick with that guy, and [Romain] is Velcro with most of those guys.”
“We’re glad we got him. Two-Five has been a staple here for a long time and [games like tonight are] why. He’s a closer.”
As for Romain, he said that his performance was just business as usual.
“I’m a vet, so I’ve been in the league,” Romain said. “This is my seventh season coming in with the Soul. Since I’ve come here, the vets always said ‘don’t mess up the money.'”
Romain explained that the saying stood for let’s keep the games rolling and keep playing next week, especially in the playoffs.
“It helps the young guys follow,” Romain added. “They take the lead. We’re like a pack of wolves. you need one to guide the pack, then you got the ones in the middle.”
The Soul will look to keep the momentum rolling in the second half of the series next week.
SOUL SNIPPETS: With the win, Philadelphia has a 36 point lead in aggregate scoring, meaning Washington would have to win the next game by 37 or more points to advance…Raudabaugh was 17 of 23 in the passing game, good for six touchdowns and one interception…Running back Adrian ferns had five carries for two scores…Along with Reynolds, Soul Wide Receiver Darius Prince had six catches for two scores…The Soul will be back at home next Sunday at 4:00 p.m. for the final leg of the series.