Week 4 is in the books, and neither of Sunday's games turned out as expected. First, the San Antonio Commanders handed the Birmingham Iron their first lost of the season despite being a 7.5-point underdog, and that wasn't even the day's biggest upset.
In the night game, the Atlanta Legends earned their first win of the year on the road against the Arizona Hotshots. The Legends were 12-point underdogs.
CBS Sports was with you every step of the way. Here's how it happened.
San Antonio Commanders 12, Birmingham Iron 11 (Final)
Atlanta Legends 14, Arizona Hotshots 11 (Final)
Memphis Express 26, San Diego Fleet 23
Orlando Apollos 20, Salt Lake Stallions 11
Check these out ...
- Greg Ward Jr., Edmond Robinson among Sunday's players to watch
- Iron CB Jamar Summers leads players who could make it in the NFL
- Top QBs in the AAF
- Week 4 picks
Hotshots equalize with Rashad Ross TD, but Legends FG wins it
What was supposed to be a get-right game for Arizona ended up in a demoralizing loss to the last winless team in the AAF. The Hotshots played from behind all night against the Legends and lost their second game in a row, 14-11. Arizona did get a late touchdown when quarterback John Wolford connected with leading receiver Rashad Ross, who now has an AAF best five receiving touchdowns, in the corner of the end zone. The touchdown tied it with less than three minutes remaining, but Atlanta responded with a field goal from Younghoe Koo to retake the lead, and the Hotshots couldn't answer in the final minute.
.@aafhotshots get on the board with Rashad Ross' 5th TD of the season! #ATLvsAZ pic.twitter.com/5nfIys4U1v— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 4, 2019
Denard Robinson gets first touchdown, Atlanta pulls ahead
One former college star that has yet to break out in the AAF has been Atlanta running back Denard Robinson. But Robinson -- "Shoelace" as he's known -- took a speed option from Aaron Murray out of the pistol and got his first touchdown of his AAF career. For reference, Robinson's nine-yard run nearly matched the 10 yards he had on the season coming into Sunday's game. As Atlanta starts to find its offensive footing, Robinson may be a bigger part of the plan.
Shoelace out here doing Shoelace things. Touchdown, @aaflegends! #ATLvsAZ pic.twitter.com/pFC8E0hgqO— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 4, 2019
Atlanta gets AAF's first safety, botches fake field goal attempt
It took a month for a team to finally score via safety, and honestly, it could have not come in a more hilarious fashion. Hotshots receiver Rashad Ross, who is typically making great plays downfield, thought it would be prudent to take a short pass and reverse field for what he surely thought would be a big play. Instead, Atlanta had the play well-covered and Ross was tackled in the end zone for a safety. That gave the Legends a 2-0 lead.
The first safety in @TheAAF history?— Atlanta Legends (@AafLegends) March 4, 2019
Yeah, that’s why we’re Legends. pic.twitter.com/taM2pa0PaD
However, not to be outdone by the absurdity, Atlanta later opted for an ill-fated fake field goal that resulted in kicker Younghoe Koo being easily tackled in the backfield. This game's ridiculous potential is at a solid 6.5.
“I mean, it looked good at first,” @AndrewSiciliano is live on @nflnetwork Atlanta 2, Arizona 0 in Q2 in the desert pic.twitter.com/hPPp2fJRT2— Dinn Mann (@mooseoutfront) March 4, 2019
Aaron Murray takes over at QB after Matt Simms injured
Atlanta has made a change at quarterback against Arizona. Former Georgia product Aaron Murray is in for Matt Simms, who left the game in the first quarter with an unspecified injury. Simms was hit hard on a strip-sack in the red zone and went to the locker room shortly thereafter. Murray has moved the offense well since taking over, but stalled drives continue to plague the Legends. Two red-zone possessions have ended in turnovers: the aforementioned Simms fumble plus a turnover on downs.
Iron claw back, but not enough to stay unbeaten
Birmingham's offense hasn't been what you'd call explosive, high-scoring or, even at times, competent or effective. However, it hadn't been a true liability until a 12-11 loss to San Antonio. The Iron weren't able to score a touchdown until the final two minutes of the game -- a Trent Richardson touchdown, his seventh of the season -- and by then it was too late. This is a team that's been able to get by with a defense-first mentality, but San Antonio met them blow for blow every time. With Orlando looming on the horizon, the Iron need to regroup quickly before facing the best team in the AAF. However, nothing through the first four weeks -- the Iron average 19.3 points per game -- indicate they'll be able to keep up with the Apollos.
Trent Richardson scores his 7th TD of the season, and Luis Perez delivers a dart on the 2-point conversion.— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) March 3, 2019
The @aafiron trail 12-11 with under 2 minutes to go. pic.twitter.com/vZ84mCMJpd
Interception leads to San Antonio touchdown
In a low-scoring game, every opportunity feels more critical as the game goes on. Moreover, every mistake feels amplified by 100. As such, the interception thrown by Iron quarterback Luis Perez to Commanders defensive back Zack Sanchez feels huge -- like, game-changing huge. Perez had not been playing well all day, but had avoided the big mistake. But this throw on the run into coverage was not his finest move and he paid for it.
Iron were thinking 6, @ZSanchez15 stops the drive. #SAvsBHM pic.twitter.com/Pvq4zBiOxd— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 3, 2019
Then, on San Antonio's ensuing possession, running back Trey Williams showed nice burst on a 12-yard touchdown run to give the Commanders a 9-3 lead. The Iron are by no means out of this game. In fact, low-scoring is how Birmingham likes to play and one play is what separates this game from being at least tied. But San Antonio has done a nice job of running the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage. That's an issue for the Iron.
Run it in. ‼️😏@twll3 #TakeCommand⚔️ pic.twitter.com/zfEIgf3ytD— San Antonio Commanders (@aafcommanders) March 3, 2019
Commanders and Iron locked in a low-scoring game
You're not going to find a more #onbrand game than the Iron locked in a 3-3 game with the Commanders after one half. San Antonio actually started out executing a good game of keep-away from Birmingham with a 21-play, 78-yard drive, but it ended in a Nick Rose field goal. San Antonio's red-zone offense has been weak with about a 21-percent touchdown rate, but the Iron's red-zone defense has been a staple of this team all season. They've also been bringing the wood outside of their 20-yard line:
You don't want to be on the receiving end of that 💥!#SAvsBHM #ForgeOn⚒️🔥 pic.twitter.com/IumI4ojyYp— Birmingham Iron (@aafiron) March 3, 2019
Birmingham without starting center
The Iron's offense will be without one of its top players against the Commanders as starting center J.C. Hassenauer has been ruled out for Sunday's game with a knee injury. Hassenauer did not participate at all this week with the injury. That actually gives Birmingham time to adjust on offense, but keep an eye on the snaps to quarterback Luis Perez, as well as the protection up front.