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.
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.
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.
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.