The Firebirds want to hit reset. An offseason of optimism came crashing down in just a half as Atlanta went on the road and got blown out by the San Antonio Marshalls, 38-17.
San Antonio raced out to 28-0 first-half lead and never looked back.
“I don’t know what else to say outside of we got our butts whipped,” said coach Rob Ryan. “That effort was simply unacceptable, and we better come into week two with a whole new outlook or heads will roll.”
The Firebirds tried to climb back into contention in the third quarter starting with a 51-yard Wil Lutz field goal. They continued the momentum with a Chandon Sullivan interception and return deep into Marshall territory, setting up a 1-yard Rodney Anderson plunge to get within 28-10 with 8:17 left in the third.
The hot streak cooled and neither team scored until early in the fourth when San Antonio reached the end zone again.
Atlanta responded with a 75-yard scoring drive, capped off by another 1-yard Anderson TD with 6:48 left, but San Antonio salted away the clock and iced the game with a late field goal.
Forced to take to the air because of the early deficit, Nick Arbuckle struggled in his first start, completing just 18 of 36 passes for 137 yards and 1 interception. The ground game was also stifled, with Anderson and Breida combining for 35 yards on 12 carries.
Corey Littleton paced the defense with 7 tackles and a fumble recovery, followed by Donald Payne, Eric Berry, and Aldon Smith with 6 tackles apiece. Sullivan snared an interception, and Kony Ealy notched the team’s only sack.
Special teams was the lone highlight for Atlanta. Kyran Moore averaged 34.5 yards per kickoff return, and Penny Hart picked up 15.5 per on punts. Lutz was perfect on kicks, and Corey Borjoquez averaged 50.7 yards on 6 punts, with 4 downed inside the 20.
This week, the Firebirds host the 0-1 Philadelphia Bulldogs in their home opener.