If the Chicago Rush had its way, every game would be played at the Allstate Arena and the player might be looking at an undefeated season.
The Rush is a perfect 7-0 at home, but have gone 1-5 on the road to drop the team a half-game shy of the fourth and final playoff spot in the National Conference Central Division.
“I wish I had an answer for it,” quarterback Russ Michna said. “I don’t. We’re going to just have to keep on trying to get better.”
Chicago hasn’t won a road game since its 62-61 victory against the Iowa Barnstormers in Week 3. Now in week 16, the Rush (8-5) is looking to buck the trend with a game against the Command (3-10) in Kansas City on Saturday.
“I might need to put a fan poll out there to tell me what to do on the road,” head coach Bob McMillen joked after Saturday’s 62-27 win over the Georgia Force. “These guys work just as hard every week no matter if we’re playing at home or we’re playing on the road. It’s a shame that it hasn’t gone our way on the road.”
Defense steps up
A repeat of last week’s defensive performance will go a long way toward straightening out the Rush’s road woes.
The Rush intercepted 3 passes, returning 1 for a touchdown, and forced 4 turnovers-on-downs against the Force after giving up 70 points the week before when the Rush suffered its worst loss in franchise history against the Utah Blaze.
Defensive back Jorrick Calvin was the man behind 2 Chicago interceptions. Calvin joined the Rush three days before last week’s game.
“He came in late Wednesday and practiced Thursday and Friday with us and that was it, and he comes out and has two big interception for us,” McMillen said. “I’m sure (New Orleans Voodoo head coach) Pat O’Harra is kicking himself right now for releasing the kid.”
Calvin said the short turnaround was a challenge he looked forward to.
“I like to make plays and if you just put me in the position to make it, I’m going to make it,” he said. “Coming in late in the week, I just made sure I stayed in the film, knew the coverages and just played ball.”
Labor strife resolved
Last week’s victory came amid other good news.
During the second half of Saturday’s game, news broke that the Arena Football League players union and the owners had come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement after a labor dispute threatened the league’s future.
“Not knowing if you’re going to have a job on Sunday is tough, but we were just basically going out there and just trying to play and let it play itself out,” said Reggie Gray, Rush wide receiver and player representative.
On Sunday, the league officially announced the deal and both parties signed the CBA on Wednesday. Details of the agreement have not yet been released.
“This has most certainly not been an easy process, but it has been a necessary process to help the Arena Football League continue to move in the right direction for our teams, players and fans,” AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz said in statement. “We looked forward to turning our full attention back to the game on the field and enjoying the 25th season of Arena Football.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.