(LOS ANGELES, CA. – Tuesday, September 16)

Coming into the most lopsided Legends Cup in history, not many had any expectation outside of a very one-sided win by Chicago. Instead, it was a well fought game at times, at other times perhaps one of the sloppiest championship games in LFL history.

Neither of the high-powered offenses which included Atlanta’s No.1 ranked passing attack and Chicago’s No.1 ranked rushing attack impressed in the 1st half. Instead fans were treated to some solid defensive football and again, sloppy play. The game simply lacked the intensity and intrigue you would want in a championship game in the 1st half.

Chicago opened the scoring with a ChrisDell Harris 5yd touchdown run in the 2nd quarter with 5:43 remaining capping a 7 play 46yd drive to take an 8-0 lead. The score highlighted why Harris earned 2014 ‘Offensive Player of the Year’ honors finishing the 1st half with numbers that would equal most backs full-day’s work, Harris picked up 78 yards on 7 carries. Chicago played to their billing with a one-sided offensive scheme electing to call 9 rushing plays and 2 passing plays, one of which led to an interception.

Atlanta’s offense simply did not play to the physical level of Chicago in the 1st half, its offense stalling on its first two drives then once again waiting to the final seconds prior to getting on the scoreboard with a Nas Johnson 1yd TD run with only :06 seconds remaining in the 1st half, crawling back into the game at 6-8.

At halftime, the cocky smiles on Chicago’s player and coaches faces during Legends Cup week were changed to a look of concern, the incumbent champions were coming into Saturday night as a heavy 18.5pt favorite and no Eastern Conference team had ever won a Legends Cup since the league’s inception in 2009. However at halftime, understanding Atlanta’s 2nd half heroics, there was a definite concern in the Chicago locker-room about their mere 2pt lead.

The 2nd half began with a sense that the 1st half was a mere warm-up, you cannot harness the No.1 passing team and the No.2 running team to only 14 points combined. Chicago responded driving down to the Atlanta 4yd line only to see the Harris fumble and it was recovered by Holly Oakes of Atlanta. Then the sense of ‘meant-to-be’ or a team of destiny when thinking of Atlanta started to become more real. Now, the stage was set for the 2014 ‘Rookie of the Year’ Dakota Hughes to step up after a big stop by Atlanta defense.

Hughes and the Atlanta offense did manage a response to the tune of 8 plays for 38 yards but came away with no points. This was one of those drives that could have changed the momentum of the game, instead they turned it over to Chicago and the champs capitalized with wait for it…..guess who touches the ball? The Ferrari, who else? Harris went for the home run ball going for a 23yd TD run with :15 seconds remaining in the 3rd Quarter, extending Chicago’s lead to 16-6.

In typical Atlanta form, they waited until the 4th Quarter for their fireworks. Managing an impressive 7 play 35 yard drive ending with Hughes connecting with Coco Montgomery on a 5 yard TD pass to draw within 4 points to 16-12 with 3:52 remaining in the game.

Chicago took over with 2:57 on the clock and went back to their horse, ChrisDell Harris who carried 3 of the 4 rushing plays that followed which led to another Ferris TD run from 3yards out, providing Chicago a comfortable 24-12 lead with now only 1:43 remaining.

If Hughes wanted to add yet another unlikely comeback to her rookie portfolio, here was the ultimate challenge. How did she respond, she went 2 for 2 despite being sacked on the series. The 2nd completion was a 12yd TD pass to Jodie Nettles but failed to complete another extra point having left a minimum 3 extra points on the field in the game with another missed extra point. The score now drew the game to 24-18 with :49 seconds remaining.

With :49 seconds remaining and Atlanta having a quick-strike offense, the game was not over. However, the ball was never put back into the hands of the Rookie of the Year because Atlanta could not recover the onside kick. What was baffling in this game was why Mia Alfonso was kicking the two unsuccessful onside kicks vs Jenny Mac who had successful kicked onside for Atlanta. #TeamJennyMac

As Chicago recovered, the dawning of the back-to-back championship was setting in. As they took their victory formation, snapped the ball and Furr took the kneel-down, the moment was realized as the confetti came floating down.

Here is a team poised to potentially become the LFL’s next Dynasty if it can reach the 3-Peat mark, then the all important 4th championship and Dynasty crown. Chicago is solid at every position outside of Quarterback. Heather Furr is one of the best all-time playmakers but could never deliver Chicago a passing attack, as evident by Chicago’s offensive coordinator Keith Hac calling a one-sided strategy every game this season. That is Chicago’s biggest hurdle, to challenge its offense to develop a balanced attack vs going for the obvious and keeping it vanilla. Vanilla may sound yummy now, but in 2015, it may be tougher to line up with teams that now have a full-season of tape on Chicago’s run-attack.

For Atlanta, a bright future awaits if they maintain the key figures as well as add a playmaking receiver to compliment Nettles and Hughes putting on more size to sustain a full LFL season. The biggest challenge for Atlanta is their lack of attitude, some of its most physically dominating players such as Coco Montgomery, Sharlene Fuller and Leanna Hardin simply lack the killer instinct.

Game Stats

Score 18 24
First Downs 12 11
Rushes-Yards (NET) 22-33 21-198
Passing Yards (NET) 103 0
Passes Att-Comp-Int 19-7-0 1-0-1
Total Offense Plays-Yards 41-136 22-198
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 1-37 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 1-5 5-28
Posession Time 21:26 10:49
Third-Down Conversions 3/10 0/1
Fourth-Down Conversions 3/6 1/1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 3/5 2/5

Atlanta Steam Individual Stats

Rushing No. Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg
Johnson 9 31 8 23 1 11 2.6
Alphonso 4 12 1 11 0 5 2.8
Hughes 7 13 11 2 0 7 0.3
Salter 2 3 6 -3 0 3 -1.5
Passing C-A-I Yds TD Long Sack
Hughes 7-19-0 103 2 28 1
Receiving No. Yards TD Long
Nettles 2 40 1 28
Montgomery 2 24 1 15
Monroe 2 22 0 12
Johnson 1 17 0 17
Tackles UA-A Total Sacks TFL
Montgomery 3-2 4.0 0.0 0.0
Harrison 2-2 3.0 0.0 0.0
Mac 1-3 2.5 0.0 0.0
Gore 1-2 2.0 0.0 0.0

Chicago Bliss Individual Stats

Rushing No. Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg
Harris 15 167 5 162 3 29 10.8
Furr 4 17 1 16 0 12 4.0
Fagiano 1 12 0 12 0 12 12.0
Nwani 1 8 0 8 0 8 8.0
Passing C-A-I Yds TD Long Sack
Furr 0-1-1 0 0 0 0
Receiving No. Yards TD Long
Tackles UA-A Total Sacks TFL
Alberts 4-1 4.5 0.0 0.0
Furr 4-0 4.0 0.0 0.0
Collins 3-2 4.0 1.0 1.5
Taylor 3-2 4.0 0.0 4.0