PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The 9-8 Philadelphia Soul have a pretty simple “to do” list for getting into the playoffs.
Win Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Now that list was about 11 or 12 items longer a month ago when the Soul were sitting at 6-8. But a three-game winning streak, and some help from other squads, has led to this simple formula for the postseason. In fact, even with a loss the Soul could still get in with a Tampa Bay loss against Cleveland.
The big reason Philadelphia is where it is right now? A defense that is playing as well as any unit in franchise history. Last time out at home, against San Jose, the Soul held the SaberCats to just 20 points, a total almost unheard of in the high-scoring AFL, winning 42-20.
Head coach Clint Dolezel was quite impressed.
“Especially since (San Jose) hung 70 on us in probably the only game we really lost all year long (70-33 on 3/23), at San Jose,” Dolezel tells KYW Newsradio. “They put it on us pretty good. So to come out with that effort at the time we needed it, pretty much must win for us from here on out, defense giving up 20 against that team is just unreal.”
Dolezel says they are playing their best football at the perfect time.
“Our momentum is huge,” Dolezel says. “We’re definitely playing off that. I think the biggest key for us is our secondary playing so well together, our pass rush is really getting after the quarterback. I think we’ve put the same defensive group out there three weeks in a row, which is really crucial for us. We feel good about our chances. We’ve said all along, if we can just get in, no one’s going to want to play us. Right now it’s in our hands to go beat Pittsburgh.”
The Power have had an outstanding season. They clinched a playoff berth long ago and they bring a 14-3 record into Saturday’s game.
“They’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the league, there’s no doubt they can put up points,” Dolezel says “But on the other side, they’ve got one of the best pass-rushing teams. The secondary with Virgil Gray, he’s probably one of the top three (defensive backs) in the league. They are playing at a high level. They don’t have a lot to play for, but you only have a 24-man roster so most of their guys are going to have to play, that’s just the way it is. And hopefully they are looking past us and looking on into the playoffs.”
Philadelphia has gone 0-2 against the Power this season.
Saturday’s game kick-off at 5:00pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.