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Magic City Saturdays: Home, (Un)sweet Home

The Legends drop their third straight game, this time in their home opener versus the Birmingham Iron.

AAF: Birmingham Iron at Atlanta Legends Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With six Georgia Tech players on the roster for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends, let’s a look at how they all did this week.

The Atlanta Legends opened up their home slate on Sunday night versus the Birmingham Iron (a formidable team of former Alabama and Auburn players) at Georgia State Stadium. Unfortunately for the Legends, they were unable to overcome four turnovers and an ineffective running attack en route to a 28-12 loss.

Atlanta QB Matt Simms had his way with the Birmingham defense, going 28 for 48 with 328 yards and 1 TD. However, his good passing performance was tempered by three costly interceptions. Simms was also the Legends’ leading rusher in Sunday’s game, running for 27 yards on two carries as part of the team’s 43 total rush yards on 14 carries — which goes to show just how weak the Atlanta running game has been this season.

While the Iron turned the ball over twice and had some offensive struggles (especially running the ball), they were repeatedly able to take advantage of good field position set up by Legends turnovers. The Legends outgained Birmingham overall (346 yards to 234 yards of offense, respectively), but the Iron had the edge in time of possession (27:03 for the Legends versus 32:57 for the Iron), moving the ball slowly and methodically up the field. The Legends showed improvement on defense for the second straight week, but were unable to get a lot of pressure on Birmingham QB Luis Perez, only sacking him once all day. For Perez, it was an ok day at the office with 160 yards on 17 completions with an interception, but the real star of the game (despite his light rushing load) was former Alabama star running-back Trent Richardson, who had 46 yards on 17 carries for three touchdowns.

Player Performance

DL T.J. Barnes (Years at Tech: 2009-12): According to the play-by-play, Barnes had three tackles (two solo) and committed two penalties: one illegal use of hands and one neutral zone infraction. He also appeared as an eligible receiver on a first and goal during the first quarter.

C Freddie Burden (2013-16): Burden started at center for the third straight game. Atlanta’s offensive line protection was very good despite allowing three sacks — QB Matt Simms had a mostly clean pocket and threw for 328 yards.

LB KeShun Freeman (2014-17): Going by the play-by-play, he had one combined tackle.

DB Corey Griffin (2014-17): Griffin participated fully in practice this week after recovering from a previous hand injury, but did not play versus Birmingham (according to the box score).

WR Justin Thomas (2013-16): Thomas didn’t make much of a contribution versus the Iron according to the box score.

OLB Brandon Watts (2010-13): According to the play-by-play, Watts had two tackles (one solo).

Next up:

Atlanta (0-3): at Arizona (2-1) - Sunday 3/3, 8pm

Birmingham (3-0): vs San Antonio (1-2) - Sunday 3/3, 4pm