DENVER, JULY 3 -- The Arena Football League made its debut here tonight and, as advertised, the indoor game was very much the shootout. And the ones left standing at the end? It was the Denver Dynamite, weathering an early Washington uprising and then using an even greater offensive surge for a 73-57 victory before 10,191 at McNichols Sports Arena.
Make no mistake -- this was an offensive free-for-all from the opening snap. But the Dynamite's defense -- yes, defense -- kept the Commandos very much in check over the second and third quarters.
Washington (1-2) managed only one second-quarter score and its 12 third-quarter points paled in comparison to explosiveness of the Dynamite (2-1).
"I don't know, we scored 57 points and anytime you do that you should win the game," said Washington Coach Bob Harrison. "We couldn't stop them. I guess we could have tried some field goals there or something but we just couldn't stop them."
What's more, the Commandos fell prey to a quarterback who up until last week was working in a building supply yard in Nashville. It was the Dynamite's Whitt Taylor, who laid down the two-by-fours and picked up a football long enough tonight to throw 10 touchdown passes. "I didn't even know I would be here until last Sunday," said Taylor, the game's outstanding player. "If you would have told me that I would have thrown 10 touchdown passes, I would have said you were crazy. I've never seen 73 points scored."
In becoming the first Arena Football team to avenge a loss, Denver also set league marks for most points and combined with the Commandos for most points by two teams in a single game.
The Commandos started strongly, reaching the end zone on four of its first five possessions. But each time Washington got some breathing room, if there is such a thing in this league, the Dynamite responded. Washington's final lead was 28-27 early in the second quarter, mainly bolstered by an outstanding performance by split end/cornerback Dwayne Dixon.
Dixon had a field day against Denver's secondary, snaring nine first-half receptions for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
Commandos quarterback Rich Ingold didn't have a bad night, either. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 382 yards, with eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
But, as Harrison pointed out, it didn't much matter. The Commandos were simply outmatched when the Denver offense was on the field. Taylor's arm and Laszlo Mike-Mayer's foot were a bit much to overcome.
"That play they have where their kicker can kick off the bar underneath the net's a good one," said Harrison, as Denver three times recovered free balls on kickoffs. (It's a free ball once it's kicked off.)
Here's a vote for one of the best spikes after a touchdown you'll ever see: Dixon, after catching a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-14, Commandos, spiked the ball off the net surrounding the goal post, sending it bouncing like a Superball near midfield. It was so good that it froze a few of the players running up to congratulate Dixon . . . Mike-Mayer, though he missed two first-half extra points, nevertheless perfectly split the uprights on a second-quarter kickoff.