Spokane coach Andy Olson doesn’t have pleasant memories of his team’s home loss to Tampa Bay.
“Our offense was so poor in the first half, scoring seven points,” Olson recalled of the April game. “We just didn’t take care of the football. It was really the only game this season I felt we got beat start to finish.”
The 70-62 setback was Spokane’s first of the season. The Storm picked off two passes, the first snapping Erik Meyer’s season-opening streak of 193 attempts without an interception.
The rematch is tonight inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Both teams are coming off a bye week. Both teams are likely playoff bound, but appear to be heading in opposite directions.
Third-ranked Spokane (10-4) has won four of five. Eighth-ranked Tampa Bay (7-7) has dropped four of five, but quarterback Adrian McPherson is expected to return from an injury after sitting out the Storm’s 50-49 loss to Chicago two weeks ago. Tampa Bay’s victory over Spokane was its only one over a team with a winning record.
Still, it’s Tampa Bay that can clinch a playoff berth with a win in the weaker American Conference. Spokane is battling San Jose for the third seed in the National Conference.
“Everybody (needs to) do their job, nobody busts coverages, everyone makes catches they’re supposed to make,” defensive back Terrance Sanders said. “Skill-wise, I think we’re better than them and hopefully that shows as long as we execute.”
The Shock will be without offensive lineman Patrick Afif, sidelined by a leg injury. Former Idaho Vandal Tyrone Novikoff, injured in the season opener, will return to the starting lineup.
“Replacing Afif is impossible,” Olson said. “He’s one of the best offensive linemen in the AFL but we have a couple of guys we’re hoping will fill his shoes.”
Teams are only allowed to activate two players from injured reserve. Spokane used its allotment by activating Chris Pino several weeks ago and Novikoff this week. … Receiver Steven Black, who injured his right knee earlier this season, is healthy. The Shock placed him on recallable reassignment in hopes nobody would claim him over a 48-hour span, but Pittsburgh did so Thursday … Newly signed receiver Nicholas Edwards was placed on injured reserve this week.