All the Soul needed last night to clinch a spot in the Arena Football League playoffs was a win over the lowly Kansas City Brigade.
The Brigade entered the game having won just two games - none on the road - and had yielded 59 points per game, 14th worst in the 17-team AFL.
But the Brigade scored a touchdown on all but one of their possessions and took advantage of Soul miscues to leave the Wachovia Center with a 54-47 win. The Soul's playoff berth will have to wait.
"We, at times, played sloppy," Soul coach Bret Munsey said. "We just can't afford to do that in this league. Any team is capable of beating anyone, and we just, at times, didn't play well. And it caught up with us."
The Soul prevented the Brigade from scoring a touchdown on just one possession - Brigade kicker Peter Martinez missed a 61-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Brigade (3-9) also scored when Soul quarterback Matt D'Orazio fumbled on the team's first play from scrimmage. Denario Smalls scooped up the loose ball in the end zone and the Brigade had a quick 14-0 lead.
"I fumbled and gave them an extra possession,' D'Orazio said. "That was a mental error by me. I take full responsibility for that."
The Soul managed to stay in the game, leading several times in the second half. But with one minute remaining, they found themselves trailing by a touchdown.
They had a first-and-goal situation on the 1-yard line with 12 seconds remaining, but D'Orazio tossed an incomplete pass. On the final play, Clifton Smith fumbled the ball, which was booted around the backfield. The Soul's Sean Scott recovered it, but the referees signaled that the clock had read zero before Scott could call a time-out.
"We thought 0.8 seconds were left," Munsey said. "That would have given us one more shot, but the referees did not think so. That's the name of the game."
The Soul are 10-3, but they hold a slim lead in the Eastern Division over the Dallas Desperados (9-2), who play tonight. The two teams will square off in Week 15 in a matchup that will play a large role in the outcome of the Eastern Division, and also help determine which National Conference team earns home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"We've positioned ourselves in a good spot," Munsey said. "We just can't let off the gas pedal. We've got to keep playing hard and keep making plays."
Munsey admitted that injuries have caught up to the Soul, who have dropped three of their last four games after opening the season 9-0.
The Soul have a bye next week and hope to have a healthier team when they return to action. Quarterback Tony Graziani, defensive back Mike Brown, defensive lineman Bryan Save, and linebacker Rod Davis are expected to be back from injury.
No Bon Jovi.