Week 8 Results
Centurions 20, Admirals 13
Galaxy 16, Fire 14
Sea Devils 38, Thunder 14
It's all change at the top of the NFL Europe standings after three games in Week Eight that each provided a shock result. The consequences of a loss by Amsterdam, Frankfurt's victory over Rhein, and a belated first win of the season for Hamburg, is that the two teams heading for Yello Strom World Bowl XIV may not be known until after Week 10 - just seven days before the championship game kicks off.
The Admirals had been sitting alone on top of the standings since Week Five when they ended Rhein's undefeated start to the season. However, the loss of league-leading quarterback Gibran Hamdan to a broken ankle meant that Amsterdam were forced to go into this week's contest with the Centurions with untested Jared Allen (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) at quarterback. Cologne's defense took advantage of Allen's inexperience, intercepting him three times and sacking him six times in a 20-13 victory.
"I thought our team played very well today," said Cologne head coach David Duggan. "There were an awful lot of big plays on both sides of the ball, and our defense came up with some huge plays when we needed them. Our offense did what we needed them to do in controlling the football and not turning it over. The turnover ratio (five to one for Cologne) made a huge difference in the ball game."
With a World Bowl berth still not confirmed, the Admirals must address those mistakes - particularly as they face a winner-takes-all game against the Frankfurt Galaxy in Week Nine.
"We obviously had some problems tonight. It is difficult to win a game or even be in a game when you turn the ball over five times," said Amsterdam head coach Bart Andrus. "One thing I can say is that our guys fought hard all the way to the end and it wasn't pretty or the way we would have liked it to come out but it is what it is and the things that we did will be corrected and improved."
If Amsterdam's move from being the undisputed leader of NFL Europe to joint first in the standing with 6-2 Frankfurt was a shock, the Rhein Fire's slump to 5-3 after opening the season with four consecutive wins is an even bigger one.
This weekend the Fire lost their third game in four weeks, falling 16-14 in a thrilling Deutschland Derby clash to the Galaxy. The loss leaves Rhein mired in third place and now takes their destiny our of their hands, leaving them needing teams to lose in order for them to make it to Yello Strom World Bowl XIV.
The Fire were statistically outplayed by Frankfurt throughout the game. The Galaxy gained 373 yards of total offense - including 209 rushing yards - against the Fire's feared defense. Rhein totaled just 41 rushing yards and were dominated on both sides of the ball at the line of scrimmage.
"I felt the difference in this game was that we failed to get the run game established, and the Galaxy were able to run the ball well," admitted Fire head coach Jim Tomsula. "I am a great believer that you have to stop the run and establish the run to win games, and this evening we could not really do either of those things."
Yet despite that, the visiting Fire held a slender one-point lead with four minutes left in the game after English wide receiver Marvin Allen hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Timmy Chang. However, Frankfurt's offense managed to get the ball back, and David Kimball (Oakland Raiders) booted the winning field goal as time expired to give the Galaxy the win.
"I was just thinking that this kick was basically our season, and if I miss it that we'll lose and we won't be going to the World Bowl," said Kimball. "It's fortunate enough that they got me into a position that it wasn't that difficult of a kick. That's why I practice everyday. I feel like I was calm and in position, and I was able to knock the kick through the uprights, and keep the winning streak going."
The top three teams now face a tough final two games with a myriad of possibilities out there which will provide the answers of which team makes it to the final.
Amsterdam will have a chance to make it back to World Bowl and defend their title if they can win just one more game - be it their Week Nine fixture against Frankfurt or their regular season finale when they host Hamburg.
The Galaxy can qualify automatically for the World Bowl by beating Amsterdam on Sunday. However, if they lose to the Admirals they still have a chance to get in. They would have to beat Berlin in Week 10, and hope that Amsterdam defeats Hamburg that week or that Rhein loses one of their final two.
Rhein - who were thought to be a World Bowl lock when they opened the season with four wins, must win their final two games and couple it with a pair of losses for either Frankfurt or Amsterdam. They could also qualify if the Admirals win their final two games, or if Frankfurt lose both of theirs and the Fire win just once.
The final game of the weekend saw Hamburg belatedly register their first victory of the season, defeating the Berlin Thunder 38-14.
Brock Berlin (Miami Dolphins) came off the bench to throw for three scores and Todd Mortensen (New England Patriots) led Hamburg to a touchdown on their first drive of the game, to help Hamburg get off the mark.
"I am really happy for my team," said head coach Jack Bicknell. "I keep saying each week about how proud I am about their effort and I have been. We had nothing to prove for you or nothing to show for it. I Now, I am happy that they can smile and not be down all the time."
Packers in NFLEL
S Atari Bigby (Amsterdam Admirals) - With eight starts at free safety, leads the team with 48 tackles (33 solo), adding three passes defensed.
Week 8 vs. Cologne - Started and made three solo tackles.
WR Vince Butler (Amsterdam Admirals) - As a reserve WR, has made nine catches for 107 yards and one rush for 13 yards.
Week 8 vs. Cologne - Played as a reserve receiver.
CB Therrian Fontenot (Rhein Fire) - Has started six games at left cornerback and is credited with 19 tackles (18 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 8 at Frankfurt - As a reserve cornerback, made two solo tackles
TE Tory Humphrey (Amsterdam Admirals) - Has started seven contests at tight end, catching 11 passes for 114 yards and one TD.
Week 8 vs. Cologne - 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 26 for 431 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 8 vs. Cologne - Started and caught five passes for 76 yards.
DT Jerome Nichols (Frankfurt Galaxy) - In eight starts at left defensive tackle, has made 23 tackles (21 solo), including three sacks, plus three passes defensed.
Week 8 vs. Rhein - Started and was second on the team with six tackles (five solo), adding two passes defensed.
C Pete Traynor (Rhein Fire) - Has started seven games at center.
Week 8 at Frankfurt - Started at center.
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 8 vs. Hamburg - Did not play
Week 9 TV Schedule (all games on NFL Network)
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Rhein Fire at Hamburg Sea Devils, 9:00 AM (CT), Live
Amsterdam Admirals at Frankfurt Galaxy, 3:00 PM (CT), Tape delay
Berlin Thunder at Cologne Centurions, 7:00 PM (CT), Tape delay
Amsterdam Admirals: 6-2-0
Frankfurt Galaxy: 6-2-0
Rhein Fire: 5-3-0
Cologne Centurions: 3-5-0
Berlin Thunder: 2-5-1
Hamburg Sea Devils: 1-6-1