With the speed of the Arena game, the first priority of an offense with a 36-year old quarterback is to protect him.
DISTANCE: 36 yards
PLAYERS: John Dutton and Robert Redd
DATE: April 13, 2012 vs. Tampa Bay Storm
FINAL SCORE: Storm 69, Gladiators 48
Offensive linemen typically go unnoticed in the world of football until they do something wrong. Fortunately, in 2012 for the Cleveland Gladiators, that didn't happen very often. Rotating nine players in and out of the fullback and three line positions throughout the season, veteran quarterback John Dutton was only sacked 10 times, ranking third best in the AFL. On nine different occasions, the offensive line held the opposing defense without a sack.
In conventional outdoor 11-man football, a quarterback typically has an average of 3.8 seconds before he's hit. In the fast-paced Arena Football, that average drops to a miniscule 2.8 seconds. Down 21-7 and facing 3rd-and-14 on the first play of the second quarter against the rival Tampa Bay Storm, the combined 1,230 pounds of guard Ron Haver, center Eric Davis, tight end Nyere Aumaitre and fullback Michael Dyer held off the rush for 2.79 seconds with no Tampa Bay defender within five yards of Dutton. When the 12th-ranked quarterback in AFL history, according to ArenaFootball.com, can take his time before he throws, he will make the right decision.
2.79 seconds was all the time wide receiver Robert Redd needed to beat the man-coverage. Dutton's 36-yard pass was right on the numbers as the Gladiators cut into the Storm’s lead.
Tampa Bay would go on to win 69-48 this night, but the Gladiators would respond with a 53-34 drubbing of the visiting Storm at The Q four weeks later.