(ATLANTA, GA.) On Saturday night, nearly 200+ television markets around the world watched a movie they had seen before, many times, the LFL’s version of Ground Hog Day, the Atlanta Steam. Building a lead into the 2nd half, in fact into the 4th Quarter, only to once again collapse.

A relatively evenly played game with Los Angeles’ offense mounting 160 yards and Atlanta with 151 yards, the difference being while Atlanta’s defense bent often, they did not break. In fact, Atlanta’s defense which has been at the center of a lot of criticism, specifically its secondary, held Los Angeles to zero points through 31 minutes of play.

Offensively, Atlanta continues to rely heavily on the legs of Britney Demery and Jesse Locklear while abandoning the arm of Dakota Hughes. Offensive Coordinator Mark White appears to have lost faith in Atlanta’s passing game and possibly one of the elite Quarterbacks in the LFL, in Dakota Hughes. Hughes finished the game with only 16 attempts, most of those attempts coming on the game’s final drive as Atlanta was trying to rally. Hughes while only completing 5 passes, had several key drops, three in the end zone with the newly signed Jolie Efezokhae dropping two and the usually sure-handed Lauren Ziegler, also dropping one.

Efezokhae at least on paper appeared to be a great last-minute free-agent signing by Atlanta, on the field, Efezokhae simply choked and looked to not even be engaged, the way she was in Pittsburgh all-season.

Despite the passing woes, for Atlanta to have any shot at a true Legends Cup run, they need to emphasize where the talent rests on this roster, in the passing game. Efezokhae and Ziegler are far better options than Demery and Locklear, both of which appear out of shape and far too slow against athletic post-season defenses like Chicago.

Los Angeles seems to be peaking at the right, now add-in several key injured players returning in tight end Sherri Awagah, wide receiver Cynthia Schmidt and cornerback Ogom Chijundu. On the offensive side of the ball, running back Carmen Bourseau could be having an All-Fantasy and potentially a League MVP type season. Bourseau finished this game with a modest 9 carries for 63 yards, although Los Angeles had to abandon the run as they fell behind early. Much like Dakota Hughes’ use in Atlanta, the lack of a passing-attack in Los Angeles is a head-scratcher.

Salerno was recently named a Hall of Fame nominee, has all the physical tools to tear up any secondary in the LFL, yet only 9 passing attempts? However, not certain the blame could be placed on the door-step of LA offensive coordinator Jeff Lowden. It appears Salerno is opting to run the ball before a passing play even develops, head coach Tui Suiaunoa was heard on the broadcast yelling, “Ashley stopping running the ball every down”. Salerno ended the game with a career-high number of carries at 16, gaining 53 yards and scoring all of LA’s three touchdowns with her legs and not her arm.

Yes, Salerno can be a dual threat, but against the Seattle Mist in the Conference Championship and potentially against Atlanta or Chicago in Legends Cup 2017, LA has got to open up the passing game. With the return of Cynthia Schmidt to the line-up, this could be the time we see Salerno slinging it more, targeting their top two receivers in Schmidt and Delaney Hall.

With the loss, Atlanta will not have much time sulk, as their rival Chicago is fast-approaching in 5 days. Atlanta is certainly capable of beating Chicago, they just cannot shoot themselves in the foot with arrant snap over the head or a key drop.

Los Angeles despite being an under-dog to Seattle in the Western Conference Championship, should be confident about its chances. Especially receiving word of Shea Norton being declared OUT alongside LaShaunda Fowler, both being key contributors for Seattle.

Los Angeles Atlanta
Score 20 14
First Downs 13 11
Rushes-Yards (Net) 29-129 28-130
Passing Yards (Net) 31 21
Passes Att-Comp-Int 9-2-1 16-5-1
Total Offense Plays-Yards 38-160 44-151
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 1-10
Kickoff Returns-Yards 0-0 1-5
Interception Returns-Yards 1-8 1-14
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-10 4-21
Possession Time 12:48 17:12
Third-Down Conversions 3/6 4/9
Fourth-Down Conversions 1/3 1/4
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 3/3 2/2