The Atlanta Legends finally played their first home game on Sunday, but still came up short against a rolling Birmingham Irons defense. Nearly halfway through the season, the 0-3 Legends have a firm gasp on their position as the Alliance of American Football‘s worst team. Their reluctance to bench Matt Simms in favor of Aaron Murray (or literally anyone else), in addition to their coaching failures, will be the downfall of a team that once looked so promising. The Iron, however, roll on to 3-0 thanks to a hat trick from Trent Richardson and a stunning display by Birmingham’s defense.
Oh, and did anyone else catch the irony in Michael Vick being brought out to place the ball before kickoff? Considering he ditched the team right before the season started, it seemed like an odd choice.
Week Three: Atlanta Legends vs. Birmingham Iron Recap
The Legends, in typical fashion, started off strong. The Legends ate up nearly 10 minutes of the first quarter with short passes and rushing plays. Still, their ability to chew clock was ultimately ineffective. On a strange decision to go for it on fourth down, a Simms pass was tipped and fell incomplete. When the Legends defense was able to stop the Irons early, the Legends put the ball in the hands of Denard Robinson, who helped the team gain ground with less than a minute to go in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, the Legends lost offensive tackle John Kling to an ankle injury in the first quarter as well. Kling, whose ankle was pinned under an Irons player, was carted away after receiving an air cast.
.@AafLegends John Kling IV is down with an apparent injury. He is carried off the field on a cart. The entire team comes and wishes him off as he heads to the locker room.
— Jaylon T. Thompson (@jaylonthompson) February 24, 2019
After a scoreless first quarter, the yardage gained by Robinson was enough to set up a field goal from Younghoe Koo, putting the Legends up with a 3-0 lead. The Irons almost immediately followed that score with a field goal of their own from Nick Novak, tying the game at 3-3.
It was also in the second quarter where Simms began to show his true colors. A pass by Simms was picked off, and another one of his passes was nearly picked off. Why Simms chooses to go deep is beyond me, because he can’t throw a deep ball to save his life.
Late in the quarter, Irons running back Trent Richardson ran in a five-yard touchdown, which put the team up 9-3 over Atlanta. The Legends followed up with another field goal – this time choosing to kick instead of go for it on fourth down – which put the score at 9-6. Interestingly, Koo has outscored the rest of his teammates 18-6. Ain’t that something?
Up until the second half of the game, Atlanta’s numbers exceeded Birmingham’s. The Legends led with 15 first downs to Birmingham’s six. The Legends also possessed the ball for nearly 20 minutes, while the Irons held it for just 10. Total yardage? Atlanta had 207, Birmingham had just 100.
First half numbers mean nothing, though, as the Irons have previously shown that they are a second half team. And oh man, did their second half talent make a statement in the third quarter.
Birmingham was able to capitalize on a turnover, scoring another field goal to go up 12-6. Richardson, who may not be great at gaining huge yardage, still managed to find his way to the end zone for his second touchdown of the day. That touchdown was ultimately followed by a two-point conversion, also hauled in by Richardson, to bump the score to 20-6. By then, hope for Atlanta was quickly fading. Did the Legends make any adjustments? Of course not.
In a surprising display of competence, the Legends defense managed to intercept a pass from Iron quarterback Luis Perez and run it 10 yards into the red zone. Still, on fourth down, Simms was unable to capitalize and was sacked for a huge loss. It was about here where the crowd – which was embarrassingly minimal in the first place – began to boo Simms and chant (or beg) for the team to start Murray.
Fast-forward some and the Legends have the ball again. Don’t worry, the Legends weren’t able to make anything of it. After grabbing a flag for intentional grounding, Simms threw his second interception of the day.
Trent Richardson is tied for 2nd in the entire league in TDs. That's all types of TDs. Passing, rushing and receiving.
Todd Gurley led the NFL with 17 rush TDs in 2018. He was tied for 17th in the league in TDs, along with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill & Sam Darnold#ForgeOn
— AAF Stats & Info (@AAFstats) February 24, 2019
Up 14 points, the Iron remained relentless. Richardson powered through once again for a handful of short gains, culminating in his third touchdown of the game. L’Damian Washington followed up that touchdown with a successful two-point conversion. Head coach Tim Lewis complimented Washington, saying that he may be Birmingham’s best receiver.
The team did manage to score a garbage time touchdown thanks to Montay Crockett. Atlanta still couldn’t get the two-point conversion, however, which kept the score at 28-12. The Legends managed to successfully recover an onside kick, which was promptly followed by Simms’ third interception of the game.
Yes, you read that right. Even in garbage time – after two interceptions – the Legends refused to bench Simms and start Murray. Talk about persistence.
Last Word on Atlanta Legends vs. Birmingham Iron
This was, by all means, a game of threes. The Birmingham Iron advance to 3-0 while the Atlanta Legends fall to 0-3. Richardson runs in three touchdowns while Simms throws three interceptions. There’s a sort of romantic irony there, right?
The Atlanta Legends are bad and should feel bad, not only for this stunning display of incompetence at their first home game, but for alienating their shrinking fanbase in their starting Simms over Murray again. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the Legends do – they’re just bad. Next week doesn’t look much better either, as the Legends square up against the Arizona Hotshots, another powerful team.
The Iron, however, move to 3-0 and will undoubtedly move up in this week’s power rankings. They return home next week to take on the 1-1 San Antonio Commanders.
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