USFL Week 9: Breakers stifle Bandits, clinch playoff berth

USFL Week 9: Breakers stifle Bandits, clinch playoff berth

Jun 12

The New Orleans Breakers are playoff-bound.

Led by a stifling defense and backed by a couple of opportunistic plays on offense, the Breakers harassed the Tampa Bay Bandits into four turnovers on the way to a 17-6 victory on Sunday, clinching the last available spot in the USFL postseason.

The Breakers, 6-3, earn the second seed in the South Division behind the Birmingham Stallions (8-1). The Bandits (4-5) were eliminated. New Orleans joins the New Jersey Generals (8-1) and Philadelphia Stars (5-3) out of the North.

The playoffs, which will be held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, begin with the semifinals on Saturday, June 25.

Here are the top plays.

New Orleans Breakers 17, Tampa Bay Bandits 6 

Highway robbery

The Bandits came up with what looked to be the first big play of the game when Anthony Butler picked off Kyle Sloter. But the Breakers' defense held and the game remained scoreless.


The Tampa defense kept coming, with Jeff McCulloch laying a vicious hit on Sloter. The score remained 0-0 heading into the second quarter.

New face turns the tide

The Breakers inserted quarterback Zach Smith into the lineup, and the move immediately paid dividends.

Smith directed an eight-play, 50-yard drive, giving New Orleans a 6-0 lead (the extra point was missed) with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Sal Cannella.

Breaking good

New Orleans got the ball back after a mistake by Tampa Bay QB Jordan Ta'amu, and FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt broke down what went wrong.


That led to a TD plunge by Jordan Ellis, which put New Orleans up 17-0 after a two-point conversion. That was the score at the half, built on the strength of three takeaways. 

Getting their kicks

The second half started much like the first half finished — with New Orleans' defense dominating. In fact, Tampa Bay was stifled so thoroughly, that its best highlight in the third quarter was a punt.

On the board

The Bandits finally got into the scoring column on a beautiful pass by Ta'amu early in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion failed, however, leaving the score 17-6.

Stopped again

The Bandits had one last chance, but Ta'amu was intercepted, and after a replay review overturned a roughing the passer penalty on the play, that was it.