Week 7 Results
Amsterdam 18, Hamburg 17
Rhein 27, Berlin 24
Frankfurt 17, Cologne 10
Week Seven of the NFL Europe season pitted the league's top three teams against the bottom three, and the narrow margin of victory in each of the game paid testament to just how close each franchise is in terms of talent. It took field goals on the final play of the game by both Amsterdam and Rhein to squeak past Hamburg and Berlin, while the Frankfurt Galaxy took their first lead of the game with under three minutes remaining and held on to it to down Cologne.
The league-leading Admirals took on winless Hamburg in a game that to all and sundry looked like a mismatch of epic proportions before kickoff. By halftime Amsterdam, who had averaged 30 points per game through the season, were trailing 17-3 and an upset looked to be on the cards.
A rally in the second half brought two more field goals by kicker Ryan Killeen, and then after Gibran Hamdan (Seattle Seahawks) tossed a 13-yard touchdown to league-leading scorer Chad Lucas (Green Bay Packers), Hamdan led the team on a 59-yard drive which resulted in Killeen's game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left.
"I'm extremely proud of our football team tonight," Andrus said. "We had some guys we had to put into the fire tonight and they came through and did a great job.
"It is interesting as you go from week to week how things happen, this one may be the sweetest victory for us because when you come from behind in the last seconds and you send your kicker out there for a game winning field goal and then he puts it through. I cannot say enough about our kicker Ryan Killeen and the job he did in that real high, high, high pressure situation."
While Killeen's kick saved Amsterdam's blushes, Hamburg head coach Jack Bicknell was forced to consider how his team had managed to blow a fourth quarter lead for the fifth game in a row.
"I have no clue," admitted the 14-year veteran of NFL Europe games. "We play hard and we have a great attitude, we just don't make the plays when we have to."
The win moved Amsterdam to 6-1 on the season and helped the reigning championships stay in pole position in the race for a spot in Yello Strom World Bowl XIV. The Admirals host Cologne in Week Eight, travel to second placed Frankfurt in Week Nine and then round out their season with a rematch against Hamburg.
The team that the Admirals had beaten in back to back weeks - the Rhein Fire - looked to get back on the winning trail when they hosted Berlin on Saturday. In fact, their game against the Thunder was exactly the opposite of what took place with Amsterdam in Hamburg.
Rhein romped to a 14-3 half-time lead before seeing Berlin bolt back into the game, scoring three touchdowns to take a 24-17 lead. Only a comeback led by Drew Henson (Dallas Cowboys) inside the final four minutes allowed the Fire to first tie the game - on an 18-yard pass from Henson to Chris Samp - and then win it on the buzzer with Ola Kimrin's 28-yard field goal.
Fire head coach Jim Tomsula was happy that is team got back with a victory, but admitted that they have plenty to address before they travel to Frankfurt to face the 5-2 Galaxy - with whom they are tied for second place in the standings - next week in a game that could potentially decide which of the teams will wind up winning a World Bowl berth.
"Our football play today was not where we needed it to be," admitted Tomsula. "We made critical errors with penalties that can't be tolerated. We turned the ball over four times and what that does is give the opponent four more chances to score points and that has to be fixed. The good thing to come out of it is that we overcame those things to win a football game. But that's not going to happen a whole lot. We can play against ourselves and the opponent, the opponent is hard enough. We have a lot of work to do to fix things, but there very fixable and we will fix them."
"This win put us in a position to have a really big game next week against Frankfurt," said Drew Henson. "Without this win, it would've made it an uphill struggle. We didn't play as well as we needed to, but we had a couple of breaks and enough plays to win. We have to correct these mistakes that are happening if we want to move forward and be a championship type team."
The critical element of that game against the Galaxy is the fact that it could determine which of the two teams goes to World Bowl, yet Frankfurt's participation looked at threat at times on Sunday in their nail-biting 17-10 win over the Cologne Centurions.
The victory was only sealed when Aaron Hosack caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Craig Ochs (Buffalo Bills) with 2:47 remaining, and then the Galaxy defense intercepted Shane Boyd (Pittsburgh Steelers) twice to seal the win. Both of those picks - and one earlier in the game - went to cornerback Brandon Haw who tied a league single-game record with three picks.
Cologne fell to 2-5 with the loss, and it was yet another disappointment for the talented team who just have not been able to close out games this season.
"I am very disappointed, because I thought the team played their hearts out tonight and I wish things had turned out differently," said head coach David Duggan. "I thought the difference in the game were the turnovers in the fourth quarter - we have to do a better job of protecting the football in that situation. That, of course, led to their big play, when they scored a late touchdown. Their receiver made a great catch, and scored the winning points."
After the game, attention inevitably turned to next weekend's must-win game against the Fire. Because the Galaxy lost at Rhein in Week One, they have to win at Commerzbank-arena and square the series to be sure of winning a tie-breaker should it come to that for a World Bowl berth. Head coach Mike Jones made a plea to the Galaxy fans, who almost outnumbered Cologne's own supporters on the road in Week Seven, to come down and make Commerzbank-arena an intimidating venue for the Fire.
"It was great to see so many purple jerseys in the crowd today - it really helps our players and lets them know that they are being supported and an incentive to play well. There were times today where their players could not hear because of how loud our traveling fans were," said Jones. "We have had a lot of people follow us to support us on the road this season. Let's hope next week when Rhein comes in they can make a lot of noise and make it difficult to hear."
Packers in NFLEL
S Atari Bigby (Amsterdam Admirals) - With seven starts at free safety, leads the team with 45 tackles (30 solo), adding three passes defensed.
Week 7 at Hamburg - Started and led the team with eight tackles (seven solo).
WR Vince Butler (Amsterdam Admirals) - As a reserve WR, has made nine catches for 107 yards and one rush for 13 yards.
Week 7 at Hamburg - As a reserve receiver, caught three passes for 22 yards
CB Therrian Fontenot (Rhein Fire) - Has started six games at left cornerback and is credited with 17 tackles (16 solo) and two interceptions among eight passes defensed...Was dubbed Defensive Player of the Week for Week 2 after a two-interception performance in a 22-0 shutout of Berlin.
Week 7 vs. Berlin - Started at cornerback and made four tackles (three solo) and one pass defensed.
TE Tory Humphrey (Amsterdam Admirals) - Has started six contests at tight end, catching 11 passes for 114 yards and one TD.
Week 7 at Hamburg - Did not play.
WR Chad Lucas (Amsterdam Admirals) - Has started all seven games at wide receiver...Leads NFLEL in touchdowns with eight; is second on the team in receptions with 21 for 355 yards...Was awarded Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4 after catching a league-record four touchdowns in a 38-31 victory over the Berlin Thunder; he finished the game with six catches for 120 yards.
Week 7 at Hamburg - Started and caught six passes for 73 yards and one touchdown
DT Jerome Nichols (Frankfurt Galaxy) - In seven starts at left defensive tackle, has made 17 tackles (16 solo), including three sacks.
Week 7 at Cologne - Started and made one solo tackle.
C Pete Traynor (Rhein Fire) - Has started all seven games at center.
Week 7 vs. Berlin - Did not play.
QB Brian Wrobel (Berlin Thunder) - Serving as backup, has completed 17 of 43 passes for 169 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, for a passer rating of 39.8...Has ran 13 times for 23 yards and one TD.
Week 7 at Rhein - Completed four of eight passes for 24 yards as the backup.
Week 8 TV Schedule (all games on NFL Network)
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Rhein at Frankfurt, 12:00 PM (CT), Live
Sunday, May 7, 2006
Cologne at Amsterdam, 8:00 AM (CT), Live
Hamburg at Berlin, 2:00 PM (CT), Tape Delay
Amsterdam Admirals: 6-1-0
Frankfurt Galaxy: 5-2-0
Rhein Fire: 5-2-0
Berlin Thunder: 2-4-1
Cologne Centurions: 2-5-0
Hamburg Sea Devils: 0-6-1