The Cleveland Gladiators made the Arena Football League Playoffs, having compiled the best record in league history at 17-1. Their first playoff came happened Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena as the Gladiators battled the Philadelphia Soul. The Gladiators had defeated the Soul twice this year, but the Soul have made it to the Arena Bowl the past two years and had experience on their side.
This was the first time I've ever really watched an AFL game in full, so it was fun seeing some of the nuances of the game and variations on football rules. It was surprisingly a defensive game, too. In two games against the Soul this year, Gladiators QB Shane Austin had 16 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Mid-way through the fourth quarter of the playoff game, Austin had thrown 5 interceptions, but a rushing touchdown with 0:42 to go gave the Gladiators a 7-point lead.
On the Soul's next possesion, a defender for the Gladiators slipped, giving Philadelphia an easy walk-in touchdown. With 0:25 left in the game, the Soul went for two points and converted, giving them a one-point lead. Would Cleveland's unbelievable stretch of sports luck continue, or would we see another high-caliber team fall in the postseason?
With 0:02 left in the game, the Gladiators had two choices: go for the end zone, or try a 36-yard field goal by former Ohio State Buckeye kicker Aaron Pettrey. They sent Pettrey out on to the field. Remember, now -- in the AFL, the goal posts are only nine feet wide, so there is little margin for error. I didn't think it would go in, but "YES!", it did, much to the delight of the crowd. The best part about all of it? After Pettrey connected, he couldn't help but do the "Money Manziel" taunt. See below:
Congrats, Gladiators! Do we have any Browns fans who have followed the team this year? I've thought about having an article or two on them here at DBN, but wanted to gauge the interest level first.