The losing team's quarterback completed 25 of 41 passes for 382 yards and eight touchdowns. The winning team's brand new quarterthrew 10 touchdown passes. And, in between the record 130 points, four kickoffs bounced off metal bars and drove players batty.
Some of Arena Football's wackiest aspects came alive in Denver's McNichols Sports Arena Friday night, and the Washington Commandos probably prefer they had stayed on a chalk board.
Denver defeated Washington, 73-57. It was the highest score in the game's short history, yet the total might not be as strange as it sounds. "This is about what people envisioned when Arena Football was thought up," Commandos Coach Bob Harrison said.
There are aspects of the game that might test a coach's nerves. On four kickoffs by Denver's Laszlo Mike-Mayer, the ball hit a metal bar, connected to the goal post, that supports the goalside nets. All four ricocheted crazily. Three were recovered by Dynamite players.
"The ball just exploded off of that bar," Harrison said. "If the ball hits it right, it's tough to catch and there's a big scramble for it. It can work for or against you. It happened to work against us."
Surely, this wasn't some kind of strategy. Or was it?
"That was just some good luck," Mike-Mayer said. "A lot of people have asked me if that was intentional, since it really messed Washington up. My goal is really to hit the net. It gives us a great opportunity, since the ball can bounce anywhere and we might get it back."
There was also down-to-earth evidence for Denver's win. After Washington's 36-20 win over the Dynamite last week, Denver hired a new quarterback to replace injured Marty Mornhinweg. Whitt Taylor, fresh out of a building supply job in Nashville, didn't seem to have much trouble adapting to the new game, completing 27 of 35 passes for 399 yards.
"They scored 73 points, so their offense must have been doing something right," said Commandos quarterback Rich Ingold. "Our defense really put the heat on him, too."
It was scrambling and quick throws, Harrison said, that made Taylor more effective against Washington than Stuart Mitchell, who had an eight-for-27 effort for Denver last week. Harrison added that the league's new agreement prohibiting fake blitzing kept the Commandos from scrambling Denver's blocking schemes.
Strangely enough, the game's turning point might have been the result of defense. Although the Commandos' offense was solid most of the game, it sputtered in the second quarter, and was stopped on a rare goal-line stand seconds before halftime.
"It certainly sounds crazy to say defense was a turning point in this game, but that was a big goal-line stand," Denver Coach Tim Marcum said.
Washington's final lead was 28-27 early in the second quarter. After that, it was all Denver.
"The offense wasn't bad," said Commandos running back Walter Holman, "but the defense just couldn't stop them." Special correspondent Neil H. Devlin contributed to this report.