The inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football officially kicked off with a pair of games Saturday night.
The Week 1 slate got underway with a tilt between the Atlanta Legends and the Orlando Apollos as well as one featuring the San Diego Fleet and the San Antonio Commanders. Among the notable players who took the field were former NFLers Denard Robinson (Atlanta) and Jalin Marshall (Orlando).
Below is a look at the first-ever AAF action.
Week 1 Results — Feb. 9
San Antonio Commanders (1-0) 15, San Diego Fleet (0-1) 6
Orlando Apollos (1-0) 40, Atlanta Legends (0-1) 6
San Antonio Commanders 15, San Diego Fleet 6
It was a night of firsts for the AAF, and a number of those historic moments came during the Fleet-Commanders tilt.
The San Antonio offense is responsible for the first play in AAF history, as quarterback Logan Woodside (a 2018 seventh-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals) connected with wideout Mekale McKay for a big gain:
On San Diego's first possession, Commanders linebacker Shaan Washington introduced himself to Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici in jaw-dropping fashion:
Perhaps the most notable part of that helmet-popping hit was that it did not draw a flag from the officials.
That sack set the tone for the first half, as the teams could only muster a pair of field goals apiece through the first two quarters.
While it was a defensive struggle for most of the first three quarters, Woodside put the Commanders on the doorstep with a 46-yard pass to Alonzo Moore on the final play of the third:
That set the table for the game's first touchdown:
The ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving San Antonio with a 12-6 lead.
After his team failed to find the end zone through the first 45 minutes, San Diego coach Mike Martz (led the then-St. Louis Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV title) opted to make a change under center, replacing Bercovici with Philip Nelson. That move did not make much of a difference, though.
San Antonio gained breathing room with a field goal later in the quarter. It was only fitting that a play by the Commanders defense helped put the game on ice:
That all but sealed the victory, as San Diego couldn't score in the final moments.
Orlando Apollos 40, Atlanta Legends 6
Orlando got its inaugural campaign off to a strong start thanks to a balanced effort.
Like the San Antonio-San Diego matchup, this game was also responsible for some historic moments. Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo (formerly of the Los Angeles Chargers) put a 38-yard field-goal attempt through the uprights just past the midway point of the first quarter for the first points in AAF history:
Unfortunately for the Legends, though, it would be nearly all Apollos for the rest of the first half.
Orlando got on the board in the opening minute of the second quarter, thanks to a replay reversal:
The pass-and-catch from Garrett Gilbert (Texas) and Marshall (Ohio State) became the first touchdown in league history. That would not be the only time that duo connected on the night, though.
After a De'Veon Smith touchdown extended their lead to 13, the Apollos channeled their inner Philadelphia Eagles with a trick play near the goal line.
Just like that, Gilbert and Marshall each had recorded a passing and a receiving touchdown in the first half.
That scoring drive was aided by sound advice from Apollos coach Steve Spurrier:
And that's why the Ol' Ball Coach is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
While the other three teams managed just six first-half points apiece in their AAF debuts, Orlando's offense proved it was more than ready to play.
The blowout continued into the fourth:
The defense even got in on the action with a pick-six.
Gilbert led his team to victory by completing 15 of 25 pass attempts for 227 yards and three total touchdowns, per Apollos reporter Tom Alexander.
Week 1 of the Alliance of American Football schedule continues Sunday, as the Memphis Express and the Birmingham Iron will square off at 4 p.m. ET and the Arizona Hotshots will host the Salt Lake Stallions at 8 p.m. ET.