Disappointingly for New Orleans, the same issues that troubled them during the season were present in the playoffs. Offensive miscues, unforced errors, and turnovers robbed the team of reaching their full potential against Birmingham. While Kyle Sloter had some decent moments, a couple of interceptions hurt the Breakers early on, and they never fully recovered.
Defensively, New Orleans looked terrible. Birmingham got almost whatever they wanted. When the team desperately needed a stop, they couldn’t get it. Once the fourth quarter came around, their body language was quite negative. It seemed like they knew they lost, which is never something you want to see.
Of all the organizations to go down first, not many were expecting New Jersey to fall. But, they did. After defeating the Stars twice during the season, Mike Riley’s group just couldn’t recapture that same intensity in the postseason. What really hurt this team, though, was their inability to capitalize on opportunities. Multiple times, the Generals were in a scoring position, and failed to put points on the board. This is what caught up to them in the end, as their defense couldn’t hold Philadelphia off forever.
There certainly were some important plays made by KaVontae Turpin and Darius Victor, but that was about all the offense Riley got. Luis Perez didn’t play a terrible game, but made a couple of mistakes down the stretch that lost them the ball game. After such an incredible season, it’s a bit underwhelming for it to finish in this fashion.
Wow. Now that, that was something special. Philadelphia proved to the entire nation just how good of a football team they are. It wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t the cleanest game. But, in the words of Case Cookus: a win is a win. The Stars successfully knocked off the USFL’s best team, and did so in dominant fashion. Sure, the score was close. Yes, they were down at the two minute warning. However, if you look at what all went down, it was clear that Philadelphia’s defense controlled the game – dictating the game at their own pace.
Case Cookus is a warrior. The amount of violent hits he takes each game is ridiculous – yet he continues to fight through all the adversity. On Saturday, Cookus led this team to victory, even after Matt Colburn went down. Not to mention, Cookus had to be taken out of the game for a drive with an injury as well. His determination is what Philadelphia needs, as it sparks the rest of the team. On top of that: Maurice Alexander stole the show, with his 88 yard punt return to put them ahead for good.
TOUCHDOWN OFF THE PUNT RETURN 🔥@_hardtime3 PUTS US BACK ON TOP 👏👏
We’ve been waiting for the Birmingham Stallions to regain their swagger. It’s been a little while since we had seen the team play a complete game. On Saturday, Birmingham looked like the best unit in the USFL. From top to bottom, it was an unbelievable performance. J’Mar Smith was sensational. He put the Breakers to sleep, making a major impact throughout the night. With Smith now playing at a high level, it opens up so much for Skip Holtz’ offense.
As has been the case all year long, Birmingham’s defense was fantastic. They only allowed three points in the second half, which allowed their team to pull away when they needed to. DeMarquis Gates was an absolute leader, no surprise. They successfully made Kyle Sloter feel uncomfortable, and that allowed their defense to take over in the second half.
If the Stallions continue to play like they did against New Orleans, this team will likely be hoisting the first USFL Championship trophy this year. It will be no easy task against the Stars, but Birmingham is as talented as anybody.
Generally speaking, the USFL’s inaugural playoffs were very entertaining. Both matchups brought fans plenty of excitement across the board.