Close but not quite. Atlanta’s best bid for a win over the mighty Orlando Rockets came up short in a 37-34 home loss. Trailing 34-19 late in the third quarter, the Firebirds rallied but ran out of time.

“I wanted the win, but I’m proud of the guys’ effort,” said Coach Rob Ryan. “The way Orlando has whipped us most times we’ve met, this is a step in the right direction. Next time we just have to finish the drill.”

Matt Barkley had a big outing against the stingy Rocket defense, completing 31 of 51 for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Cameron Meredith was unstoppable, hauling in 11 catches for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robert Davis had his best game as a pro with 12 catches for 144 yards.

Matt Breida added 83 yards on 23 carries on the ground.

Joplo Bartu led the defense with 8 tackles, and Brandon Boykin hauled in an interception. The defense was held without a sack.