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updated: 7/6/2012 10:59 PM

Rush face must-win challenge against first place San Antonio Talons

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By Chad Thornburg
cthornburg@dailyherald.com

Linebacker Kelvin Morris remembers celebrating the Chicago Rush's division title on the Dallas Vigilantes' home turf last season.

As the San Antonio Talons enter Sunday's game in Rosemont with a chance to clinch the National Conference Central Division with a win over the Rush, Morris isn't looking to learn what that moment felt like for the now-defunct Vigilantes team.

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"We don't want anybody celebrating on our field," he said. "We're going to come out and we're going to play hard."

The Talons (12-3) are rolling into town on a nine-game winning streak and are tied with the Arizona Rattlers for the best record in the National Conference. The Rush (9-6) are a half-game behind in the fight for the fourth and final playoff spot in the conference and need a win Sunday to stay in play with just three games remaining.

"We're fighting to be in the playoffs and San Antonio is in our way," said defensive back Jorrick Calvin. "We have to look at it as this is the playoffs now. In order for us to go next week, we have to play hard this week."

The Rush squandered a chance to steady their hold on a wild-card playoff spot last week, instead falling behind in the postseason race with a 75-61 loss to the San Jose SaberCats.

"Last week, the balls just didn't bounce our way," Morris said. "Hail Mary before halftime with a lineman catching it, two (kickoffs) off the bar. It was just one of those games."

But even after the tough loss at home, the Rush is still alive.

"San Jose is in the past," said head coach Bob McMillen. "Our guys have got to feel hungry and ready to play football against a good San Antonio team. ... If we don't come out and play that way, we'll get embarrassed in front of our home crowd."

The Talons took the first meeting between these teams in April when a blocked extra point with six minutes remaining was the difference in the Rush's 56-55 road loss. But with postseason hopes and division titles on the line, Sunday's contest carries a little more significance than that matchup.

"We're not kidding ourselves," Morris said. "There's no other way to look at it. We've got to win these next three games and see what happens."

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