Soul want a win, not revenge, in Pittsburgh

Soul want a win, not revenge, in Pittsburgh
June 14, 2013, 11:00 am
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Dan Raudabaugh threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns earlier this season against Pittsburgh. (USA Today Images)

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.

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