Soul want a win, not revenge, in Pittsburgh

061213-raudabauh-slideshow-uspw.jpg

Soul want a win, not revenge, in Pittsburgh

The Soul won't call it a revenge game, even if it is one.

Saturday's matchup with the Pittsburgh Power will have something on the line, though. It will be the difference between the Soul being 0-3 in the American Conference East Division or picking up their first win in the division for a 1-2 record.

Either way, the "must-win" label is already being mentioned among the players.

"They're all must-win games," Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh said. "It's just how we're treating them now. ... We need to get that first win in the division and there is no better chance than this week."

You don't have to remind the Soul about those fourth-quarter problems, one of which came against Pittsburgh in Week 7. They know.

The Soul pretty much outplayed the Power in that 53-48 loss. They had more yards (313-274), ran more plays (49-48), had more first downs (21-20). But the Power did outscore the Soul 13-0 in the fourth quarter, which was the big difference.

"We took Pittsburgh lightly the last time they came in here and they came in here and handed it to us plain and simple," defensive back LaRico Stevenson said. "This go around, we know what we got at stake, and we're going to go out there and play and give it our all."

The Soul did have a chance late in the fourth quarter in the last game against the Power.

The Soul trialed by five with 31 seconds remaining and got the ball to the Pittsburgh 19-yard line, but Raudabaugh threw an interception with 12 seconds remaining, which sealed the deal. Raudabaugh finished the game going 23 for 41 for 288 yards, four touchdowns and that one interception.

"You got to have a short-term memory in football and at quarterback especially," Raudabaugh said when recalling them game. "The most important play is the next play. We're disappointed that it happened, but we can't go back and change the results."

Soul wide receiver Tiger Jones didn't take the revenge bait when recalling the loss. Jones finished the game with eight receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. One could say his performance was all for naught.

He didn't look at it that way, but Jones instead took the one-game-at-a-time stance.

"We obviously don't want to get swept by them," he said. "I don't think it's a revenge thing, it's just taking it one game at a time regardless of who we have to play. We have to take care of what we do, and I think we'll be alright."

Said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel: "It's somebody in our way. Doesn't matter if we beat them, lost, whatever, we got to go win. We've got to get on a roll. We're over the halfway point. We have to start getting to where we're really starting to play good football in all three phases."

This week might be the perfect time.

The 3-8 Power have lost their last two games and are 2-4 in their last six games. Pittsburgh is last in the AFL in scoring, averaging 40.6 points, but the Power do make it hard on opponents who like to throw the ball, boasting the league's top pass defense. The Power are allowing opponents an average of just 222.7 passing yards. The thing is, they are last in the league in rushing defense (29.5 yards), so a good dose of fullback Derrick Ross may be in store.

Even with all those stats, Dolezel still wants his team to be prepared. The Soul may be better on paper, but taking Pittsburgh lightly -- again -- is not the game plan.

What is in the game plan is for the Soul to play like they're facing one of the best teams in the league, not one of the worst. Play with some sizzle. Play like they are the best in the division, which is where they currently stand.

"We have to play like we're playing Arizona," Dolezel said. "We got to show up and think that they're going to come out here and play their best football."

But it's not a revenge game. Or is it?

Raudabaugh used the "revenge" label at first, but when asked again, he changed his viewpoint.

"It's not revenge or payback, but I feel like we owe them something," Raudabaugh said. "They came in and matched our intensity and beat us at home. But we're going to treat it like any other game because we want to win them all.

"We just have to execute for four quarters, starting from the first drive to the last," he added. "We got to be better on our first drive of the game, make sure we go down there and get a touchdown. ... We just have to make plays when opportunities come up."

They'll be plenty of plays. Whether the Soul can capitalize on them from start to finish this go round, well, time will tell.

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Soul celebrate Arenabowl championship in City Hall rally

Soul celebrate Arenabowl championship in City Hall rally

The 2016 World Champions banner ran across the stage, as the Soul received a hero’s welcome at City Hall on Wednesday. 

The Soul won their second ArenaBowl in franchise history on Friday, holding off a late rally by the Arizona Rattlers in a 56-42 win. Over 100 fans and onlookers cheered the organization on during a rally in the City Hall plaza despite strong humidity. Mayor Jim Kenney came to the stage amidst a cascade of light blue and white confetti and proclaimed the day “Philadelphia Soul Championship Day.”

“We are as a city extremely proud of this team that they were able to accomplish what they were able to accomplish this season,” Kenney said. “You guys really made us proud and provided us with much-needed bragging rights.”

Kenney singled out owner Ron Jaworski, the former Eagles quarterback who was instrumental in bringing Arena Football to Philadelphia along with Jon Bon Jovi and Craig Spencer in 2004. 

“One of the first messages I got after the game was congratulations from Jon Bon Jovi,” Jaworski said. “He still lives with his Soul.

“Craig, Jon and I said we’re going to do one thing, folks. We’re going to do one thing. We’re going to do one thing win … a total commitment to success and winning.”

Easily the most recognized figure on the stage, Jaworski began listing the Soul’s accomplishments to the crowd. 

“We are the winningest team in Philadelphia,” Jaworski loudly exclaimed. “We’ve brought two world championships to this city. I think that’s pretty darn good!” 

The players were introduced to start the rally, but noticeably missing was defensive lineman Jake Metz. The Shippensburg University product earned a tryout with the Eagles after the Soul’s championship and was signed in time to play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Jets (see story). Metz made an appearance toward the end. He was brought on stage by coach Clint Dolezel, leading the Philly crowd to cheer the newest Eagle. 

Dolezel, a Texas native, said he has a soft spot for Philadelphia after his four years at the helm. 

“All you Soul fans, I know I’m from Dallas," Dolezel said to playful boos. "I understand, but there’s a little piece in here that’s got a little Philly in me now."

The Soul’s rally certainly brought out some characters. One man wore a blue full-body suit with Soul-colored facepaint and a blue wig. Others danced around wildly in championship bliss, soaking the momentous occasion for Philadelphia’s winningest franchise.

Many in the crowd were season ticket holders who made the time to welcome back their championship team. That included Mark and Cheryl Vitullo, who came from South Jersey for the parade, bringing their children with them. 

“We’re just so proud of them all,” Mark Vitullo said. “The coach did a great job. The owners too, it was just really nice. What I like about the game is they do a lot for the kids too.”

“The boys know the players,” Cheryl Vitullo said. “[The Soul players] know them. They come to see them before each game. They talk to one another. They high-five. The boys have given them four-leaf clovers for good luck, the whole thing. They have been with them the whole time."

The fans weren’t the only ones enjoying the moment. The Soul players were all smiles, signing autographs and taking in the moment. While it may not be a Super Bowl, the championship meant a lot to the players, especially offensive lineman and Temple alum Wayne Tribue.

“It’s great,” Tribue said. “This is my first real championship that I’ve ever won. I couldn’t have done it with a better group of guys, better coaches. I’m just thankful for it.”