Iron cracks under pressure. Express upsets Birmingham.

 

This game was truly a tale of two halves: both coaching and player execution. The Birmingham Iron moved the ball efficiently through the first two quarters using a mostly balanced attack. Trent Richardson was able to break through on chunk yardage plays and QB Luis Perez looked more comfortable in the system. He was able to connect on intermediate passes and a couple of deep shots as well. TE Braedon Bowman made his return this week and scored his first career Alliance Touchdown in an 11-yard strike from Perez. Defensively the Iron were up to the usual bend but didn’t break tactics. Until the beginning of the 2nd quarter…

The Memphis Express drove downfield on the arm of Brandon Silvers who connected pass after pass moving the chains. RB Terrence Magee drove the ball in for Memphis’ first score of the contest. Not to be outdone, the Iron fired back with a drive of their own. It was capped off by Alliance leading scorer Trent Richardson pounding the ball in for his 10th rushing TD on the season. Then something happened.

Miscues on Special teams led to a blocked punt by the Express that was returned for a Touchdown. Coach Logan seemed hellbent on forcing the pass as opposed to running the ball. What had once been a two-possession lead by the Iron had dwindled away. Linemen were missing blocks. Backs were failing to pick up blitzes. The Iron coaches seemed to have thrown their hands up, at a loss for what to do in situational football. With a one-score lead and opportunity to drain the clock, they elected to pass which resulted in a 3 and out.

Coach Singletary and his Express took full advantage of the gift they had been handed. Again led by Brandon Silvers, Memphis marched downfield and tied the game. With 24 seconds left and a timeout, the Iron decided to kneel as opposed to trying to get into position to allow Nick Novak to save the day again.

The Alliance of American Football saw its first overtime of the season. Starting at their own 10-yard line, First and Goal. Birmingham had the first possession and opportunity to use the best back in the league in a goal to go situation. It was fruitless for the Iron and gave Memphis the chance to secure only the second victory of the year. Opportunity knocked; Memphis answered. The mighty Iron had fallen again. To say that this was a poor game by the coaching staff would be an understatement. It was atrocious clock and game management combined with poor execution on all parts. Hopefully, lessons were learned as Birmingham allowed their playoff hopes to be put in jeopardy.

Notice there has been no mention of Johnny Manziel. He did have minor contributions. He totaled 48 yards passing and added another 20 on the ground. The chants of “We Want Johnny” echoed through the stadium. Brandon Silvers remained calm and stayed the course despite his home crowd chanting for his replacement. Manziel’s effect on the game was minimal, his biggest impact coming in the post-game conference. The growth and maturity we have heard about finally shined through as he stood up for his teammate.

The Iron get to come home this week and face off against the Atlanta Legends. Will they be able to shake this one off. Are we finally seeing the true measure of this team? Mediocrity at best is unacceptable. We can only wait and see, hopeful and reminiscent. Until then, Forge On!


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