ReFocused: Birmingham Iron 17, Atlanta Legends 9 | AAF Analysis – Pro Football Focus

ReFocused: Birmingham Iron 17, Atlanta Legends 9 | AAF Analysis - Pro Football Focus
Birmingham clinches playoff berth in AAF
Saturdays action in the AAF had a little bit of everything. Orlando-Memphis went down to the final minute and the Apollos needed to stave off an upset bid to get their seventh win of the year. That was followed by San Diego-Salt Lake, an ugly Stallions win that had a combined six turnovers and 11 points.

Sundays schedule had two important games in the playoff race. The Birmingham Iron secured the second playoff spot in the East with a win over the Atlanta Legends. The nightcap between the Arizona Hotshots and San Antonio Commanders was a dominating performance by the Hotshots to emerge as the top team in the West — at least for the time being. 

Next Up In Latest News Raiders have turned weaknesses into strengths through free agency Raiders TE Darren Waller gets huge opportunity in replacing Jared Cook Raiders still not done, add LB Brandon Marshall on one-year deal Raiders add RB Isaiah Crowell on 1-year deal LaMarcus Joyner reminds Jon Gruden of Ronde Barber Five reasons Raiders could be NFLs most improved team in 2019 Most Read Raider Film Room: Brandon Marshall not a lock to start Silver Mining 3/31: Jon Gruden envisions no problems with Antonio Brown, sees plan coming together Find Tickets Oakland area events happening soon:

Video: Atlanta Legends vs. Birmingham Iron | AAF Week 8 Game Highlights

CBS Sports was with you every step of the way, so check below for the all the scores, highlights and updates from Sundays games. 

Share Share Sunday AAF open thread: Birmingham Iron vs. Atlanta Legends tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Welcome, Raider Nation, to the second day of AAFs Week 8! There are two more games today, and the first has the Birmingham Iron traveling to Atlanta to take on the Legends. The Iron are 4-3 while the Legends are 2-5, and the Iron have command of the second playoff spot in the East.

SundayBirmingham Iron 17, Atlanta Legends 9 (Final) Arizona Hotshots 23, San Antonio Commanders 6 (Final) 

The hottest team in the West, and perhaps the AAF, is the Arizona Hotshots. Winners of three straight, Arizona blew away San Antonio 23-6 in the most impressive showing by any team in Week 8. The Hotshots got their usual downfield shots in with star wideout Rashad Ross (4 catches, 78 yards, TD) to beat the Commanders over the top while leaning on the running game of Justin Stockton and Tim Cook. However, it was the defense that showed up in the biggest way. Arizona held San Antonio to a pair of field goals and forced two key takeaways, including this critical strip sack in the fourth quarter with the Commanders looking to score. 

For Atlanta, QB Aaron Murray is having a terrific year as he approaches 1,000 passing yards. Running back Taurean Folston has carried the load on offense for the Legends and is averaging 4.5 YPC.

Arizona now takes a share of the lead in the West playoff race. Keep in mind that, since the Hotshots and Commanders have beaten each other and are tied at 3-2 in the division, net points in conference games is the current tiebreaker. In any case, these are probably the two best teams in the West who will likely see each other again in April. For now, though, the Hotshots are playing as well as any team in the Alliance.

To say that nothing has worked for San Antonio offensively would be putting it lightly. The Commanders dearly miss deep threat wideout Mekale McKay, who is inactive with a high ankle sprain, and this team hasnt done much without him. To provide a spark on offense, coach Mike Riley swapped out Logan Woodside (4-of-9 with an interception) for Marquise Williams. The former North Carolina quarterback led the Commanders on their best drive of the first half, resulting in a long Nick Rose Field goal. Down 15-3, the Commanders need major halftime adjustments on both sides of the ball. 

Orlando quarterback Garrett Gilbert is the frontrunner to be the Offensive Player of the Year, but Ross is right there, too. No other AAF wideout has consistently stretched the field like he has. That speed from the Hotshots star was on display in the first quarter of Sundays game against the Commanders as Ross ran right by the entire San Antonio defense for a 58-yard score to put Arizona up 6-0. Ross has been banged up in recent weeks, too, but hes a gamer — or, as an Arizona coach once texted, a “beast.” 

John Wolford launches one to @RocketRoss_19, 58 yards for the score! 🔥@aafhotshots | #AZvsSA

The Birmingham Iron are going to the playoffs, and in typical fashion, they didnt need much offense to do it. The Iron got a fumble recovery and an interception in the fourth quarter, the latter coming after punter Colton Schmidt pinned Atlanta inside its own 5-yard line, and defeated the Atlanta Legends, 17-9. The win locked up the No. 2 seed in the East for the Iron, after the Orlando Apollos locked up the No. 1 seed on Saturday. Birminghams defense has been making plays like this all season.

BOOM! 💥@aafiron defense forces fumble late in the 4th quarter. #ATLvsBHM

Aaron Murray has relieved Matt Simms at quarterback for Atlanta in the third quarter, and it looked as though he would get them in the end zone on his first drive. However, Birminghams defense seldom breaks near the goal line, and it stood tall again. On 4th-and-goal from the 3, Murray tried to run it in but came up a yard short.

The Iron havent done much on offense, but it hasnt mattered: Birminghams special teams are on fire. After setting up a touchdown with a fumble recovery in the second quarter, the Irons DeVozea Felton returned a punt 49 yards to the Atlanta 19 in the third. The Iron settled for a 37-yard field goal from Nick Novak.

Atlanta soon answered with a field goal of its own. The Legends, as usual, are staying in the game thanks to their perfect kicker. Younghoe Koo made his third field goal of the game in the third quarter, and is now a perfect 14 of 14 this season.

All the Iron and Legends could muster offensively was one field goal apiece until about eight minutes before halftime, but thats when the Iron finally broke through. It started with the Legends fumbling on a punt return — it was their third fumble on a punt in the first half, but they recovered the other two — after Birminghams Ike Spearman punched it out of the arms of Dwayne Hollis, and it was returned to the Atlanta 1. Thats where Trent Richardson did what Trent Richardson does, punching it in for his AAF-leading 11th touchdown.

Birmingham is shorthanded during todays game vs. Atlanta, but namely it will be without arguably its best player: cornerback Jamar Summers. The AAFs Defensive Player of the Year candidate suffered a knee injury in the Week 7 loss to Memphis and did not practice this week. He is on the Irons inactives list, along with running back Brandon Ross. The Irons pass defense suffered without Summers on the field a week ago and could be in jeopardy of giving up more big plays through the air today. 

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,… Full Bio

The Birmingham Iron beat the Atlanta Legends 17-9 to clinch a playoff berth in the Alliance of American Football.

The Iron improved to 5-3. They trail the Orlando Apollos by two games in the Eastern Conference with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Legends kept it close, but Iron cornerback Chris Davis forced a fumble that Jack Tocho recovered in the fourth quarter. Then, cornerback Joe Powell intercepted Atlanta quarterback Aaron Murray on the Legends’ final possession.

The Iron had only 63 net passing yards and 114 rushing yards, but Nick Novak made all three of his field goal attempts from 35, 37 and 28 yards.

“Our defense and our special teams played a tremendous role in this game,” Birmingham head coach Tim Lewis said, via “They did a fantastic job. [Defensive coordinator] Rick Minter does a great job in practice week by week, putting in plans that the guys can understand and grasp on to. They played really well. Offensively, we just needed a little bit of spark and I think Keith [Price] provided that, so I’m really thrilled about how things ended up going in the second half.”

Iron starting quarterback Luis Perez completed only 10 of 24 passes for 65 yards. Price went 2-for-2 for 31 yards.

Posted in Birmingham