The losses are piling up as fast as the injuries for the Soul in an Arena Football League season that is going downhill.
Returning home after three consecutive road games, the Soul suffered their fifth straight loss last night, a 53-41 defeat by the Kansas City Brigade at the Wachovia Center.
"I am not losing faith in the organization; it's the best team we've ever had," Soul co-owner Jon Bon Jovi said. "This plague of injuries is beyond my comprehension."
Leading by 46-41, the Brigade had a fourth-and-2 play and put the game away when quarterback Raymond Philyaw connected with Boo Williams on a 7-yard scoring pass with 52 seconds remaining.
The Soul announced a sellout crowd of 17,493, but there were thousands of empty seats. The AFL requires teams to announce tickets distributed, so that means a lot of people with tickets chose not to attend.
But the Soul remain alive in the playoff hunt despite their 4-5 record. Twelve of the 19 teams qualify, and if the season ended today, the Soul would be in.
Quarterback Tony Graziani has missed nearly four full games after suffering a sprained left shoulder early in the second quarter of an April 16 loss at Dallas. Graziani is on the injured-reserve list, and the earliest he could return is May 21.
From a Soul perspective, he couldn't come back soon enough.
The team tried replacing him with Clint Stoerner, who already has been cut. Juston Wood is starting now. In what amounts to about three full games, Wood has thrown eight interceptions.
The difference in last night's game was the play of the quarterbacks. Philyaw completed 36 of 41 passes for 364 yards and six touchdowns, with no interceptions. Wood completed 19 of 28 for 238 yards and five TDs, with two interceptions.
"I have to play better and smarter and put our guys in a position to succeed," Wood said.
On Friday, Sean Scott, the Soul's standout linebacker-receiver, was put on injured reserve. Scott's hamstring injury will keep him out for at least three more games. Two other starters, receiver Larry Brackins and defensive back Mike Brown, missed their third and fourth games, respectively, with hamstring injuries.
"We have to have guys who will step up and play well when we have injuries, and we haven't got that right now," Soul coach Bret Munsey said. "It's our job as a staff to get them prepared, and for some reason, we haven't been able to do that."
The bright spot? Wide receiver Charles Pauley had nine receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He also set a single-game team record with 277 all-purpose yards.