The Iron have improved to 2-0 on the season after defeating Salt Lake 12-9 on Saturday afternoon. In front of 17,319 wildly excited fans at Legion Field, the boys (and girl) from Birmingham pulled off a late-game comeback to secure the W. In my preview of this game I listed multiple points the Iron needed to accomplish for the victory. I also said that it would be an exciting offensive show. Well, I was wrong. Birmingham didn’t do very well at checking off the points I listed either. They still were able to fight back for a tough win.
The home team struggled to do anything effectively on offense for most of the day. They finished the game 7 of 16 on third down, rushing for a pitiful 47 yards on 22 attempts and got dominated at the line of scrimmage. Fumbles by Weslye Saunders and Quan Bray cost Birmingham valuable possessions. The passing game suffered more drops by receivers. Perez finished 24 of 38 for just 184 yards. He was sacked three times for a loss of 15 total yards. Birmingham’s longest play from scrimmage was an exciting 23-yard catch and run by Trent Richardson in the third quarter.
— Salt Lake Stallions (@aafstallions) February 16, 2019
The Stallions offensive and defensive lines used their size and strength to bully the Iron. Time of possession (30:40 – 29:20), total rushing yardage (151 – 47), total net yardage (256 – 216), and time of possession while leading (13:02-0:59) all went in favor of the visitors. However, their inability to finish drives and untimely turnovers were what did them in. Birmingham led the game for only 4 minutes and 47 seconds, but that was all that counted when the game clock struck zero.
Salt Lake surprised many people with a change at starting QB, inserting Austin Allen under center over Linehan. Allen never even came close to being a threat and was clearly overmatched by the vaunted Iron secondary. Birmingham is quickly becoming known as a no-fly zone, holding this week’s opponent to a laughable 114 yards on 15 of 31 passing attempts. Having only given up a total of 9 points through 2 games it is clear; this defense means business.
Through most of 3 quarters, the Stallions seemed to be the better team. Late in the third Birmingham was able to shift momentum in their favor. Following a punt, Jamar Summers forced Demornay Peirson-El to fumble inside his own 15. Shaheed Salmon hustled downfield, recovered the ball in the end zone and put Birmingham on the board. The crowd was electric, and the Iron were feeding off of it. You could sense the deflation in Salt Lake entering the fourth quarter.
Perez and Co methodically took the ball 54 yards in 11 plays using nearly 6 minutes of game clock in the 4th quarter. Trent Richardson struck from 2 yards out and put the Iron ahead. Players were becoming chippy. The physicality of both teams was beginning to wear on one another. And after the whistle contact was getting more frequent.
— Birmingham Iron (@aafiron) February 16, 2019
Taylor Bertolet had one more opportunity with less than a minute left in regulation. The snap, the hold, the kick…NO GOOD! WIDE LEFT! In what would’ve tied the game, the struggling kicker missed from 48 yards out with 1:03 left to play. Birmingham took over on downs and ground out the remaining clock.
The Iron go on the road next week to face the Atlanta Legends. There is a lot of work to be done if they plan on remaining unbeaten. The offense will need to find ways to open up the running game. The defense has to improve against it. Linemen on both sides of the ball need to get better quickly. For now, there is a victory to celebrate. Until next time Iron fans #ForgeOn.
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Want to check the Iron preview article? Check it out HERE