Updated: May 15, 2007 11:36:13 AM PDT

From top performers to an Instant Classic


Top performers

A look at the best individual performances from Week 11:

Dallas' two-minute offense: The Desperados once again worked their hurry-up offense to perfection, moving down the field in six plays to notch their third-straight last-second victory, this time topping Chicago when Clint Dolezel hit Will Pettis for a 3-yard TD with 3 seconds remaining.

Arizona QB Sherdrick Bonner: Bonner became just the second QB in AFL history to pass for more than 40,000 yards in his career. He joins New Orleans' Andy Kelly in the exclusive club.

San Jose coach Darren Arbet: The SaberCats' coach earned career victory No. 100 in the win over Las Vegas.

The Kansas City defense: The Brigade picked off four passes in the first half and held Utah to just seven points in the first two quarters.

The San Jose defense: The SaberCats tied a team record with four interceptions -- highlighted by Marquis Floyd's two picks -- and six forced turnovers.

The Colorado defense: What is it with defenses this week? The Crush lived up to their name, sacking Nashville's Jeff Smoker a team-record five times. They also had three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Chicago WR Rob Mager: The rookie had the best game of his career, catching 12 passes for 147 yards and a TD.

Kansas City QB Raymond Philyaw: Philyaw was 20-for-27 for 263 yards and a team-record eight TDs.

New York WR Kevin Swayne: In his first game back from a hamstring injury, Swayne hauled in four TDs in the win over Philly.

Tampa Bay WR Lawrence Samuels: Samuels, who had 59 yards and a TD in the win over L.A., went over the 10,000 career receiving yards mark.

Orlando DE Greg White: White had three QB sacks, two hurries and forced a fumble in the Predators' win over New Orleans.

Season Of Change

As teams struggle, players and coaches pay the price.

Las Vegas fired coach Danton Barto and his staff after the Gladiators lost their ninth straight game and sit at 1-10 this season. Barto will finish the season, but Las Vegas GM Sam Jankovich will begin the search for a new coach immediately.

"I sat and spoke with Danton at the airport [following the loss] to inform him of my decision," Jankovich told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I then spoke to the staff and players. I think in fairness to Danton and his wife and family, it's best we get this out in the open now so he doesn't hear things about me searching [for a new coach].

"He has assured me he will continue to work hard. It's best we do this now. After all, things can't be any worse than they are, can they?"

Probably not. This futility obviously wasn't expected from the team after it hired Barto last year out of af2, in which he led the Memphis Xplorers to the 2005 title and was named coach of the year.

Now, Las Vegas begins the search for its fourth coach in five years.

"That way, we can get out in front of anyone else looking for a [coach] and really begin narrowing down the number of [potential names] in regards to who we want coaching," Jankovich told the Review-Journal. "We can begin making all the calls we want now and get the process started."

Meanwhile, in Nashville, after back-to-back losses, the Kats waived four players, including AFL veterans WR Cornelius Bonner and DB Monty Montgomery, in an effort to shake the club up.

"There are 10 teams in our conference and six of them are going to make the playoffs and I'll tell you right now, we're going to be one of the six," Kats head coach/director of football operations Pat Sperduto told The (Nashville) City Paper.

The Kats have been going with younger players this season -- with impressive results -- but it's still surprising they parted ways with Bonner and Montgomery. Bonner started every game and had 65 catches for 968 yards and 18 touchdowns. Montgomery, after starting the 2007 season on injured reserve, returned in Week 5 and notched 49 total tackles and one interception.

Monday Night Matchup

New Orleans (4-6) at Philadelphia (4-6)
Monday, May 21
(ESPN2, ESPN360, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Two teams that need a win. The VooDoo will go only as far as QB Andy Kelly takes them and he'll need to get on a roll as the season winds down. The Soul, meanwhile, are reeling, having lost six straight. But the talent is still there to make a run at the playoffs.

• Complete Week 12 schedule
SCHLERETH'S TAKE
Schlereth
What a great game Monday night between Chicago and Dallas as these two teams fought it out down to the wire. Chicago suffered injuries to two key players (WR Bobby Sippio and DB Jonathan Ordway), but still fought down the stretch before losing on a last-second touchdown. There are a lot of teams that would've folded when an MVP candidate and vital cog to the offense like Sippio went down, but the Rush kept the pressure on Dallas and almost stole one.

This is a good omen for Chicago because even though it lost the game, it knows it can compete with the best in the AFL without two excellent players. Obviously that's not what the Rush want to do and hopefully for them Sippio will be back and ready to play soon. Still, it's an excellent confidence booster to see other players out there making plays and picking up the slack.

On the flip side, the Desperados' coaching staff has to be pleased with the way this team didn't give up in the closing minutes of the game and made the plays necessary to win. It's Dallas' third straight win in the final seconds and QB Clint Dolezel proved why he's one of the best in the game by executing the final two-minute drive to perfection. He did a great job of taking what the defense gave him and managing the situation.

This win bodes well for Dallas because it once again proves the Desperados are never out of a game. That must be intimidating to opposing teams because it's easy to start tensing up when playing a team that has the ability to come back late in the game. Don't be surprised if late in games going forward you start to see Dallas opponents pressing a little to make plays and throwing interceptions and giving up big plays defensively.

-- Mark Schlereth

WEEK 11 RUNDOWN
Columbus 59, Grand Rapids 56
Grand Rapids' Timon Marshall continues to amaze (five more TDs this week), but Matt Nagy and Columbus still found a way to win.

Orlando 42, New Orleans 33
Orlando showing signs of life late in the season. Shane Stafford's five TDs carry Predators past slumping VooDoo.

Colorado 57, Nashville 35
Don't look now, but Colorado is playing like a title contender. John Dutton's six TD passes lead Crush to their seventh win.

Kansas City 60, Utah 41
Raymond Philyaw threw a team-record eight TD passes as the Brigade topped Utah.

Tampa Bay 40, Los Angeles 37
Tampa Bay wins its third straight behind Brett Dietz's five TD passes.

Arizona 53, Austin 41
Trandon Harvey has 11 catches for 151 yards and four TDs and Sherdrick Bonner hits a passing milestone (40,000 career yards) as Rattlers roll.

San Jose 61, Las Vegas 34
Mark Grieb throws five TDs and San Jose hands Las Vegas its 10th loss.

New York 69, Philadelphia 49
The passing attack everyone expected to see all season finally emerged as Aaron Garcia threw eight TDs and Dragons handed Soul their sixth straight loss.

Dallas 52, Chicago 48
Chicago loses two of its best players (WR Bobby Sippio and DB Jonathan Ordway) and then loses the game in the final seconds to Dallas. Desperados become first team to clinch a playoff berth.

-- ESPN.com

MOTION
Dallas slips past Chicago.
 

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