In Week 7, the Arizona Rattlers were expected to make short work of the San Antonio Talons on Ak-Chin Indian Community Field at US Airways Center.
But the world champions made the struggling Talons look like world beaters. The Rattlers let them hang around until late in the game, never able to take more than a 10-point lead.
In fact, it took on onside kick return for a touchdown by Jack linebacker Kerry Reed with 1:43 left, and defensive back Arkeith Brown's second interception in the final minute for Arizona to secure a 69-59 victory.
Ah, but that was back in mid-April. These days, Arizona (12-0) continues to pile up the victories, while San Antonio (1-11) searches for answers that might not be found this season. The Talons, owners of the Arena Football League's worst record, have lost six in a row and remain winless at the Alamodome.
The game will be webcasted on ESPN3.
Arizona will have to guard against a letdown if it intends to set the record for the best start in AFL history and tie the longest winning streak in a single season (13), set in 2011 by the Jacksonville Sharks.
The Rattlers, who have won 16 straight games dating back to last season, insist none of this is about streaks and setting records. It's about securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and keeping the Foster Trophy in the Valley for a third straight year.
The Rattlers certainly have the quarterback who can do it. Nick Davila, who's having an MVP-caliber season, threw eight touchdown passes in his return to the starting lineup last week against the Portland Thunder. A week earlier, Davila missed the first start of his Rattlers career following the passing of his father May 30. He came off the bench, however, and sparked the team with four second-half touchdown passes in a 51-42 win over the San Jose SaberCats.
San Antonio still can't seem to find a quarterback who can turn things around. Shane Boyd has the most starts (eight), but the former University of Kentucky player (who was born in Fort Huachuca) has been erratic, having thrown an AFL-leading 19 interceptions and only 35 touchdowns.
Boyd was given a short leash last week against the Orlando Predators. After throwing an early interception that was returned for a touchdown, Boyd was replaced by Matt Bassuener, who also was intercepted and sacked three times in the 58-39 loss. Bassuener, who played at Georgetown, went 18-for-29 for 205 yards and three touchdowns.
The Talons are not without standout players. With a League-leading nine interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns, defensive back Kelvin Rodgers is one of the best. Rodgers also has 11 pass breakups and 46 tackles.
San Antonio also has a solid wide receiver in D.J. Stephens, who has totaled 66 receptions for 938 yards and 17 touchdowns in nine games, and a bruising fullback in in Mykel Benson, who has carried 59 times for 213 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games.
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