tampabay.com

Fourth-quarter turnovers hurt Storm's playoff hopes

The Storm's long Saturday ended with its four-game win streak snapped.

By COLIN MARTZ
Published May 27, 2007


ATLANTA - The Storm's long Saturday ended with its four-game win streak snapped.

Brett Dietz threw three fourth-quarter interceptions, essentially handing Georgia a 52-38 win that complicated Tampa Bay's playoff chances.

Several members of the organization attended the funeral of Caroline Wiren earlier Saturday in Oxford, Miss. The wife of lineman Nyle Wiren died last week from complications of childbirth.

"It was tough (to play), " coach Tim Marcum said. "But that's what we do."

The loss leaves Tampa Bay at 5-7 and third in the National Conference wild-card race. (Four make the playoffs.) Philadelphia, at 5-6, faces 3-8 Austin today. And New York and New Orleans, both 4-7, meet Monday.

With the scored tied at 38 in the fourth, Dietz threw interceptions on three consecutive possessions. After a Chris Jackson touchdown catch for the Force, Jermaine Smith returned the second for a touchdown and 52-38 lead.

Dietz threw four interceptions in all, finishing 24-for-36 with 222 yards and three touchdowns.

"Their defensive backs were the best I've played against so far this season, " Dietz said. "They had a great game plan and got in my head."

"It wasn't all Brett's fault, " Marcum said. "We just didn't make the plays on the (defensive) end that we needed to make in the end."

Three of Dietz's interceptions went to Reggie Doster, but it was Smith's return that put the game out of reach.

Jackson led Georgia (10-2) with 13 catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think he's the best (receiver) in the league, " Marcum said.

Trailing 24-17 at halftime, Tampa Bay seized the advantage early in the third. Torrance Marshall capped a four-play, 30-yard drive with a 5-yard run to tie the score.

On the ensuing possession, Jeroid Johnson intercepted Chris Greisen in the end zone, leading to Dietz's 1-yard touchdown run.

Tied at 31 early in the fourth, Lawrence Samuels made an acrobatic 6-yard touchdown catch on a tipped pass to give the Storm the lead. But the Force scored the final 21.