By Steven Weldon
The first week of the Alliance of American Football went off without a hitch, but the second week is where the league began to show its' weapons. In this weekly series, I will recap all four games and outline any breakout stars or teams in them, as well as a power ranking.
BIRMINGHAM IRON 12, SALT LAKE STALLIONS 9
While watching this game, I said to myself, "The Stallions are a lot better than they looked last week [against the Arizona Hotshots]". I was apparently wrong, as the Iron were able to shake off a 9-0 first-half deficit and win in the final quarter, 12-9. The only two touchdowns of the game came through the ground by Trent Richardson of the Iron and Joel Bouagnon of the Stallions, and while both teams managed to hit field goals, Stallions' kicker Taylor Bertolet missed three field goals, including the potential game-tying kick.
Star of the game: Trent Richardson 19 carries, 41 yds, 1 TD, 6 receptions, 50 yds.
Richardson was the leading rusher and receiver for the Iron, but he will need to give more production if the Iron are going to prove that their 2-0 record is not a result of playing bad teams.
ARIZONA HOTSHOTS 20, MEMPHIS EXPRESS 18
The Express had full control of this game in the first half, forcing John Wolford of the Hotshots into two interceptions and no points. After the half, the Hotshots proved why they are one of the top teams in the league, completing their comeback with 14 points in the fourth quarter. Zac Stacy of the Express barrelled downfield for a total of 101 yards and a touchdown, but half of his gain on the day came on one play. Meanwhile, the Hotshots amassed 209 total rushing yards behind four players. The Express faded into the night in their first home game, and after a promising start, are still looking for their first win.
Star of the game: John Wolford, 14/22, 194 yds, 2 TD 2 INT.
Wolford started cold and ended hot, and while he does have two interceptions now, he still leads the league with six touchdown passes. His play is the key to how the Hotshots go this season.
ORLANDO APOLLOS 37, SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS 29
No shortage of offense here, as the Apollos and Commanders played a competitive game that finished with a 17-point Apollos fourth quarter, including a game winning interception returned for a touchdown leading them to victory. Garrett Gilbert of the Apollos had an explosive day, passing for 393 yards and two touchdowns, tossing to Charles Johnson for 192 yards and a TD and Jalin Marshall for 84 yards and a TD for the bulk of it. The Commanders had a solid nine-point lead going into the final frame, but their questionable defense buried them. While many teams have multiple players with at least six tackles, the Commanders top two tacklers only managed to collect four.
Star of the game: Garrett Gilbert, 19/28, 393 yds, 2 TDs, 1 2PT.
Gilbert shredded the Commanders all day, and I would have given this award to Charles Johnson, but Gilbert found more teammates and willed his Apollos to victory.
SAN DIEGO FLEET 24, ATLANTA LEGENDS 12
The Legends were out to prove their 40-6 loss on opening night was a fluke, and they had a solid case in the first quarter, controlling the ball for most of the quarter and scoring their first touchdown as well as a field goal. The game crumbled from there, as the hometown Fleet charged back behind the rushing of Ja'Quan Gardner, who scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to slam the door shut on the Legends.
Star of the game: Ja'Quan Gardner, 15 carries, 104 yds, 2 TD.
Gardner added his name to 100-yard rushers in league history and cemented his starting spot with clutch running to shut down the Legends.
AAF POWER RANKINGS WEEK 2
1. ARIZONA HOTSHOTS (2-0)
The Hotshots two wins are impressive, and they'll look to extend it to three with another game against the Stallions coming weekend.
2. ORLANDO APOLLOS (2-0)
The Apollos explosive offense and excellent comeback victory make them a top-two team in the league. They'll face off against the Express in week three.
3. SAN DIEGO FLEET (1-1)
I could have interchanged the Fleet and Commanders, because they are two sides of a similar coin. The Fleet made a comeback against a worse team and showed a lot of mettle and potential in their game. They'll face the Commanders in week three, which will give me a better barometer for separation.
4. SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS (1-1)
Like I said previously for the Fleet, the Commanders had a similar game and situation. Their problems came when they lost the lead to a good team, but they still hung in there all day long. In their game against the Fleet, we'll see how far both teams have come since the first week.
5. BIRMINGHAM IRON (2-0)
The Iron are undefeated, but I am unimpressed. They barely squeaked out a victory over the Stallions this past week, and the only reasonable option on offense is Trent Richardson. Their defense can bring them back to where they belong, but their offense makes me sleepy. Good thing they play early games.
6. MEMPHIS EXPRESS (0-2)
The Express have had two reasonable chances to win and wilted in both. They'll experience a tall order when they take on the Apollos in week three.
7. ATLANTA LEGENDS (0-2)
The Legends woke up in game two, but they weren't awake enough to put together a complete game. They'll host Birmingham in their first home game in week three.
8. SALT LAKE STALLIONS (0-2)
The Stallions don't look very good. Their offense isn't anything to sneeze at, and now it seems their special teams need a ton of help. We'll see if they can be competitive in the rubber match against the Hotshots this weekend.
Catch the week three action on Bleacher Report Live, NFL Network and CBS Sports Network, as well as at AAF.com and on the AAF app.