The Stuttgart Surge played host to the Barcelona Dragons in their Week 9 matchup, their 2nd of the season. Both clubs entered the weekend at 2-5, hoping for a win to help them make a playoff push. With 2 teams already qualified (Hamburg on Saturday, Frankfurt with their win on Sunday), for these 2 teams the time is now to start the playoff campaign.
Don’t let their records mislead you. Both of these teams are just one situation away from turning their season around. The Surge have already had a lot of adversity this season, and we’re just past the halfway mark. Almost the same situation in Barcelona. Seems like all they needed was the ball to bounce another way in 1 or 2 of those losses and we’d be talking about how they could be locking up a playoff berth next week.
When you look at the rosters for both, the skill and experience that fill them from top to bottom are incredible. So if you told me before the season that we would go into Week 9 with them 2-5 I would have called you crazy.
The game started off on the sloppy side for both teams as the weather didn’t favor what these teams do best, throw. Barcelona’s 2nd drive lasted one play. Edwards’ pass sailed on him, and Stuttgart’s DB Marcel Dabo was right there to make the play.
The Surge weren’t able to capitalize on the turnover on that drive, but the next time Stuttgart had the ball, QB Aaron Ellis was able to get them in FG range, where K Jens Hauser was able to give the Surge an early lead.
Stuttgart’s lead didn’t last long, big plays by WRs Mario Flores and Jean Constant set the Barcelona offense up in scoring range. It’s a nice problem to have, but most NFL teams only have 1 big-play receiver at their disposal, but the Dragons QB Zach Edwards has 3. Edwards found his 3rd man, Remi Bertellin in the back of the endzone for their 1st score** of the game. PAT was good, Barcelona led 7-3.
Ellis led the Surge back down the field and into the red zone twice more during the 1st half, but the first drive he wasn’t able to get enough air under the ball, and Dragons DB Luca Masero came away with the INT. The next trip into scoring range was just before the end of the half and did result in a field goal, making the score 7-6.
What’s important, is that Ellis made a lot of plays with his legs on these drives, something he wishes he didn’t have to do, especially since he’s a pocket passer. Necessity breeds innovation, and because he hasn’t had any time to be in the pocket, he’s added a new wrinkle to his game.
Also late in the 1st half, a series of plays involving Dragons LB Myke Tavarres are currently under question by the writer. Tavarres was on the left side of the line in what’s called punt-block formation. During pursuit, the LB known for spending a lot of time in the opponents’ backfield, got a piece of the punt by Surge’s Hauser. During which he also got some of Hauser.
The ELF officials flagged Tavarres for roughing the kicker; under NFL rules (which the ELF says it follows), Rule 12 Section 2 Article 12 states:
No defensive player may run into or rough a kicker who kicks from behind the line unless such contact:
1. is incidental to and occurs after the defender has touched the kick in flight
2. is caused by the kicker’s own motions
3. occurs during a quick kick or a rugby-style kick
4. occurs during or after a run behind the line
5. occurs after the kicker recovers a loose ball on the ground
6. occurs because a defender is pushed or blocked (causing a change of direction) into the kicker
7. is the result of a foul by an opponent2021 NFL Rulebook
In the NFL a player cannot be called for roughing the kicker IF that player blocks the kick. It looks as though Tavarres may have – he did play in the NFL, so it stands that he knows the rules – pleaded his case to the ref, albeit briefly, and then was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Which ended up being the 1st of 2. The results of which got him disqualified.
We don’t know yet if the official did not know this rule, or decided to disregard it. The league doesn’t comment on call made during a game, but it’s plain that without the roughing penalty, Tavarres wouldn’t not have received the 1st conduct infraction.
At the time that this was published, the league had no formal comment.
[**The touchdown catch by Remi Bertellin was also questionable. He did not get both feet in bounds, but because there is no replay in the ELF, they cannot review the call on the field. No doubt it looked like he did get both feet down in real-time to the officials, but even if the venue is equipped with a jumbo screen and they see they made the wrong call, they cannot refer to that. The call has to stay as it was determined.]
The 2nd half didn’t get off to a great start for either team. The Dragons received the kick to open the 3rd quarter, but quickly went 3-and-out. Barcelona DB Brandon Brooks intercepted an Aaron Ellis pass to the end their 1st drive of the half.
Bertellin came up big for the Dragons on their next drive, gaining 24 yards on a pass from Edwards. This was the first of 3 drives that ended in Jean Constant TDs. Edwards got Barcelona in the red zone and hit Constant on a short pattern across the middle, the playmaker ran it in from there.
That’s not to say that it was smooth sailing for the Dragons, both teams traded punts for most of the 3rd quarter. Until one of those Stuttgart punts was returned inside the 5 yard line by, you guessed it, Jean Constant. The next play, they let him finish what he started with a short out route for the score.
There were only 2 more scores for the rest of the game, both touchdowns, by both teams. The Dragons scored on a 75 yard bomb, that also had Constant showing off his shiftiness, breaking a tackle, and getting through 4 defenders on his way to the end zone.
QB2 Michael Winterlik led the Surge offense on the final drive, and thanks to a couple of penalties, a big run by RB Jean-Charles Moukouri, WInterlik was able to punch it in for the late TD. Dragons K Gino Tavecchio did add a late FG to make the final score 30-12
Barcelona improves to 3-5, and faces The Berlin Thunder next week, while Stuttgart falls to 2-6 and travels to Cologne.
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