(CHICAGO, IL.) Both teams came into the game missing key personnel, the Los Angeles Temptation locker-room looked like a trauma unit at the end of the 2017 season and its carried over into 2018. No.1 receive Cynthia Schmidt still rehabbing a neck injury, starting defensive end Naja Christmas an ACL / MCL and franchise-quarterback Ashley Salerno on disciplinary leave.

The Chicago Bliss were also dealt a couple devastating blows this past off-season, All-Fantasy wide receiver AJ Johnson announced she is taking the season off due to personal reasons and long-time franchise running back, perhaps the best in history, ChrisDell ‘Ferrari’ Harris signing with the Atlanta Steam.

Perhaps none of these losses were more impactful than the loss of Salerno from the Los Angeles line-up. Salerno is a locker-room leader and perhaps the most complete QB in league history, with all the physical tools. For a second-time, Salerno was lost from the line-up due to off-the-field issues. Head coach Tui Suiaunoa has gone on-record stating Salerno may be cut soon, although unlikely following the quarterback play of back-up Kiara Patterson on opening night.

Both offenses started slow with Los Angeles’ Patterson committing a turnover on the Temptation first offensive series. The Bliss moved the ball effectively between the 10-yard lines but would implode inside the RedZone. Chicago did manage to mount a 5 play 23-yard drive late in the 1st Quarter en route to a Javell Thompson one-yard touchdown run, giving Chicago an early 6-0 lead. Jayne Caldwell while not lighting up the sky, showed considerable improvement over her 2017 performance early in the game, managing the offense to another touchdown drive on Chicago’s first series in the 2nd Quarter. Caldwell calling her own number with another one-yard touchdown run, extending Chicago’s lead to 14-0.

Los Angeles continued its offensive woes in the 2nd Quarter, not scoring a single point through the first 20 minutes of play, in fact, the Temptation did not score its sole touchdown down until a little over 6 minutes remaining in the 4th Quarter, when Nas Johnson scored with an impressive 12yd run. Chicago added two more scores, both by breakout-rookie Tamika Robinson, a 13-yard run and a 30-yard pass from Caldwell. Chicago left little doubt of its elite-status easily winning the game 28-6.

The takeaways from the game for Los Angeles was that they need to figure out the Quarterback situation immediately, as Kiara Patterson is completely out of shape and back-up Michelle Kenny who went 0 for 5 with an interception, is also clearly not the answer. Defensively, Los Angeles did give up 28 points but often defended very short-fields as the LA offense routinely went 4 and out or committed turnovers, yielding Chicago’s offense great field position. LA’s defense kept the Temptation in the game heading into the 4th Quarter but received no help from its offense.

Perhaps the worse performance of the night for Los Angeles was not on the field but within the coaching staff. Offensive Coordinator Rory Dairy called one of the worst games witnessed in a while, the perfect example being a 4th and 1 with the game’s best short-yardage back in Carmen Bourseau, Dairy calls a go-pattern….on a 4th and 1, with a struggling back-up Quarterback and no proven wide receiver on the roster.

For Chicago, the offense definitely appears to have made strides from 2017, specifically Quarterback Jayne Caldwell who really dedicated herself this off-season and trimmed down as well as working with Quarterback’s coach Matt Pike. The run game, although not the same without The Ferrari, ChrisDell Harris, showed it can be effective with Javell Thompson as the full-time starter. However, the most impressive element of the Chicago team had to be its defensive unit. Ranked No.1 in 2017, the roster from 1 to 7 has improved to the level of dominance, at times resembling a pack of Wolves on the hunt. The front three and back four performed in unison. Chantal Taylor, Marissa Golliday, and Kristin Morrison were amazing upfront, making otherwise a very good LA run-game look remedial. The Bliss secondary looked All-Fantasy (All-Pro), with Dominique Collins, Game MVP Alli Alberts, and Theresa Petruziello. Collins performed like a shutdown corner while Alberts and Petruziello could prove to be the best safety-tandem in the LFL.

Los Angeles will lick its wounds, literally, with several key injuries and prepare for the rematch with Chicago in Ontario, California on May 11. Chicago could bury LA’s season with a win on May 11 and take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles Chicago
Score 6 28
First Downs 7 12
Rushes-Yards (Net) 24-56 27-79
Passing Yards (Net) 66 103
Passes Att-Comp-Int 13-3-2 15-7-0
Total Offense Plays-Yards 37-122 42-182
Fumble Returns-Yards 1-15 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 0-0 2-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-37 3-21
Possession Time 15:26 24:34
Third-Down Conversions 2/8 1/7
Fourth-Down Conversions 0/4 1/4
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 0/1 2/5