An elusive home win. An end to their three-game losing streak. Even a night where they clinch a playoff spot.
But in the end, the Storm let a two-touchdown lead slip away and lost 63-49 to the Spokane Shock in front of announced crowd of 9,934 at the Forum on Saturday night.
"They just wanted it more, because this game comes down to the end," said receiver Joe Hills, who led the Storm with four touchdown catches and 101 yards receiving. "All I know is we've got to win. We've get back to playing better."
The Storm (7-8) are on a four-game losing streak and have lost six times at home after going 7-2 last season. And while Tampa Bay has won just twice at the Forum, it still had a chance to clinch a playoff spot this week if the New Orleans Voodoo lost to the Utah Blaze late Saturday.
"I could care less what happens with New Orleans," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "I care about the Tampa Bay Storm. Can't wait on ifs. I don't look at the world like that. ... All I care about is us, and it's nice (if we get in that way), but we have to stay focused ... and win already."
The Storm took a 35-28 lead into halftime, getting a Vance Cuff interception on Spokane's first drive. That play set up a 5-yard touchdown catch by Michael Lindsey. Chris Davis would also have an impressive night, with eight catches for a team-high 110 yards. In the second quarter, Hills had a highlight catch, reeling in a ball and flipping over the end zone half wall.
However, it was the third quarter that put the Storm in a hole. The Storm allowed three straight scores by the Shock (11-4), including misplaying the ball on a kickoff that bounced off the net. The Shock recovered in the end zone, giving them a 49-42 lead at the time.
The Storm had no answer for the combination of quarterback Erik Meyer and Brandon Thompkins, who hooked up for five passing touchdowns. Meyer passed for 303 yards and seven scores and ran one in, while Thompkins finished with a game-high 12 catches for 123 yards.