ArenaBowl XXII was played on July 27, 2008 at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana (the host of ArenaBowl XXI). It was the 22nd and final championship game in the history of the original Arena Football League. This was the fourth neutral site ArenaBowl in AFL history and the second ArenaBowl in the state of Louisiana. It was the last ArenaBowl before the AFL's economic suspension, until 2010 when the AFL was reformed, continuing on with ArenaBowl XXIII.
|Date||July 27, 2008|
|Arena||New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|MVP||Matt D'Orazio, QB, Philadelphia|
|Winning coach||Bret Munsey|
|Losing coach||Darren Arbet|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Bob Wischusen, Ray Bentley, Stan Verrett and Marcellus Wiley|
The game was played between the American Conference Champions San Jose SaberCats, who were making their fourth, and second consecutive, appearance in the title game (they have won in all of their previous trips), against the National Conference Champions Philadelphia Soul, who were making their first appearance in the franchise's history in the ArenaBowl.
|1||March 1||Orlando Predators||Home||W 77-56|
|2||March 9||Chicago Rush||Away||W 60-49|
|3||March 16||New York Dragons||Home||W 63-42|
|4||March 20||Los Angeles Avengers||Away||W 71-34|
|5||March 29||Tampa Bay Storm||Home||W 59-51|
|6||April 5||Utah Blaze||Home||W 64-56|
|7||April 12||San Jose SaberCats||Away||W 58-57|
|8||April 21||Columbus Destroyers||Away||W 76-55|
|9||April 28||Dallas Desperados||Home||W 57-28|
|10||May 2||Cleveland Gladiators||Away||L 55-67|
|11||May 12||Georgia Force||Away||L 62-63|
|12||May 17||Columbus Destroyers||Home||W 51-43|
|13||May 22||Kansas City Brigade||Home||L 47-54|
|15||June 7||Dallas Desperados||Away||W 71-64|
|16||June 14||Cleveland Gladiators||Home||W 62-61|
|17||June 22||New York Dragons||Away||W 59-30|
The Soul, along with division rival Dallas, were undefeated at week 9. They preceded to beat them in that week, however when travelling to Cleveland for the following game, they lost their first game of the season. They continued to sputter, dropping two of their last three, however these ultimately were their only three losses on the season. They were the top seed in their conference, clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs until the actual ArenaBowl.
San Jose SaberCatsEdit
|1||March 3||Chicago Rush||Away||L 47-70|
|2||March 10||Grand Rapids Rampage||Away||W 66-58|
|3||March 15||Arizona Rattlers||Home||W 63-43|
|4||March 22||Dallas Desperados||Home||L 56-59|
|5||March 29||Kansas City Brigade||Away||W 44-36|
|6||April 5||New Orleans VooDoo||Away||L 43-72|
|7||April 12||Philadelphia Soul||Home||L 57-58|
|8||April 18||Utah Blaze||Away||W 61-40|
|9||April 26||Los Angeles Avengers||Home||W 70-42|
|10||May 3||Orlando Predators||Away||L 35-61|
|11||May 9||Arizona Rattlers||Away||W 63-42|
|12||May 17||Utah Blaze||Home||W 74-64|
|13||May 24||Colorado Crush||Home||W 59-42|
|14||May 31||Los Angeles Avengers||Away||W 66-56|
|16||June 14||Tampa Bay Storm||Home||W 73-70|
|17||June 21||Georgia Force||Home||W 68-62|
The SaberCats finished the season with a record of 11-5, yet, unlike the Soul, were not undefeated for one week of the season, due to their loss in week one to the Chicago Rush. However, after losing four of their first seven games, and five out of their first ten, they continued on to finish with six consecutive wins to have a total of eleven during the season. They finished well enough to have the second best record in the conference, and best in their division. They were the number two seed in the playoffs.
One odd fact noted throughout the playoffs was that both lowest seeded teams making the playoffs won in the first round.
In the playoffs, the Soul first beat the sixth-seeded New York Dragons 48-49 in the Divisional round of the tournament on a controversial call. The Soul appeared to have scored the game-winning touchdown as time expires. The play was reviewed, and even though the replays seemed to indicate a knee down before the ball crossed the goal line, the score was confirmed and the Soul won the game. In the Eastern Conference Championship they proceeded to beat the fourth-seeded Cleveland Gladiators by a score of 35-70.
The SaberCats had a similar playoff schedule. They also had a first-round bye but unlike the Soul, failed to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They beat the fifth-seeded Colorado Crush (51-64) in the Divisional round and the sixth-seeded Grand Rapids Rampage (55-81), who previously beat top-seeded Chicago Rush, in the Western Conference Championship.
The SaberCats received the opening kickoff, and teams exchanged touchdowns through the first quarter, tying the game three times.
It was 20-20 when the Soul took control. Philadelphia scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to go up 34-20 and led 37-27 at halftime. In the second half, Philadelphia scored on its opening drive and added a safety to up its lead to 46-27.
San Jose responded to close the game to 46-34 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mark Grieb to Jason Geathers. But the Soul was able to match each SaberCat score. With 39 seconds left in the game, a two-yard touchdown pass from Matt D'Orazio to Phil Bogle gave the Soul a seemingly comfortable 59-42 lead. San Jose scored in 11 seconds and recovered an onside kick, and scored again with just 17 second left.
Suddenly it was 59-56, but the Soul recovered the ensuing onside kick and was finally able to run out the clock.
Philadelphia defeated San Jose 59-56, and Soul quarterback Matt D'Orazio was named the Mitsubishi Motors ArenaBowl XXII MVP.
D'Orazio was 26 for 43 for 302 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. His leading receiver was Chris Jackson with 11 catches for 146 yards and three scores.
Grieb finished with 299 passing yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. Rodney Wright caught 13 passes for 144 yards and two scores. Geathers had five touchdowns and 101 receiving yards.