Week 4 of the rebooted USFL kicked off Friday with a late-night thriller between the Michigan Panthers and the victorious Philadelphia Stars. Saturday saw one team extend their unbeaten start and leave another still in search of their first victory. Sunday, the outcome was uncertain until it was decided in the final seconds.
USA TODAY Sports has a few takeaways from all of the USFL Week 4 action:
A brave call in the last seconds pushes the Breakers to the top
With the game tied on Sunday and time ticking away, New Orleans Breakers coach Larry Fedora had a decision to make.
The logical decision was to buy as much time as possible and give kicker Taylor Bertolet a chance to win with his fourth field goal of the game.
After Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter nailed the ball to stop the clock with 16 seconds remaining, setting up a third-and-8 situation at the Houston Gamblers 28-yard line, New Orleans could run one more play and call their final timeout before sending the kicking team down the field.
However, those instructions weren’t communicated quickly enough, and Sloter was forced to use that timeout to avoid a game penalty delay. With no room for error, Fedora returned the attack to the field… but instead of trying to get one step closer to the potentially game-winning kick, the Breakers took the go-for-broke approach.
Sloter threw deep and found Jonathan Adams in the end zone to give New Orleans a 23-16 win.
Sloter needed just four plays to lead the Breakers 56 yards in 32 seconds for the touchdown, with the key play a 25-yard strike to Sal Canella that set the winning score.
Sloter finished with 397 yards through the air, completing 21 of 26 passes. The Breakers beat the Gamblers on offense 506-155, but committed four turnovers, which kept the game close throughout.
Sudden end for Jeff Fisher’s Michigan Panthers
It seemed like a lock that the Panthers would even their record at 2-2 after running back Reggie Corbin ran 2 yards in third and 1 at the Philadelphia Stars 5-yard line with 33 seconds left. Philadelphia was out of timeouts and had produced three third conversions on the Panthers drive that started with 5:17 to go.
Trailing 26-25, Michigan called timeout with 3 seconds left to set up kicker Michael Carrizosa with a field goal for the win.
Unfortunately, Carrizosa turned out to be the goat rather than the hero. He threw the field goal 21 yards on the post as the Stars hung on for a stunning win.
Beyond the Panthers falling to 1-3 this season, the miss put a damper on what was a brilliant game for Corbin. He finished with 152 yards on 12 carries and scored an 88-yard touchdown that marked the USFL’s longest rush this season.
Pittsburgh remains winless after lackluster effort against Generals
The Maulers are still the only team not to have a win in the USFL after a 21-13 loss on Saturday to the New Jersey Generals in a North Division game. The Maulers entered the game as the worst performing team in the league and nothing they showed against New Jersey improved.
The Generals came first on the board when De’Andre Johnson rolled to his left and found Alonzo Moore wide open and took him home for a 62-yard strike.
New Jersey increased its lead to 11 early in the third quarter after a Cameron Echols-Luper kickoff return put the Generals in great position on the field. The Generals hit the dirt seven plays later on a 3-yard touchdown run from Darius Victor. Victor leads the USFL with four scores on the ground this year.
The Maulers could muster just 256 total yards of offense, while the Generals used effective passing play to move the chains, completing 20 of 24 passes to hold the ball for nearly 35 minutes.
Birmingham Stallions remain unbeaten
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Birmingham Stallions did just enough on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Bandits, winning 16-10 to move to 4-0 on the season.
The Stallions — boosted perhaps by (understandably) having the most fan support of any Birmingham, Alabama-based team in the league — were superb on defense. They gave up just 158 total yards against the Bandits. Which is good, because the Stallions’ offense managed just 228 yards while posting essentially identical yards-per-play averages (3.5 for the Bandits; 3.7 for the Stallions).
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