second-round game, threw only one touchdown pass Sunday. One, now, obviously the single-game low in club history.
"Maybe we tightened up," McClay said.
Maybe, because so many uncharacteristic things took place. Like poised to take an opening 14-0 lead after picking off Orlando's Joe Hamilton on the second possession, but Andrew Layton then fumbling away the ball on a quick shuffle pass at the Orlando five. Like poised to take a 28-24 halftime lead, and knowing they would get the first possession of the second half, but getting stymied on four plays starting from the Orlando 4.
And worse than all that, of all things, the Desperados lost track of the downs during that sequence, Dolezel, along with the coaching staff, thinking it was only third down when it was really fourth when the veteran quarterback threw the ball away.
Evidently, the scoreboard said third, but the chain crew on the field had fourth.
"I screwed that up," Dolezel said, and so bad that he and the coaching staff continued to argue with the officials as the half expired they were so unconvinced.
Still, despite all this nonsense, the Desperados trailed only 31-28 entering the fourth quarter, and even after dropping behind 38-28 with 12:27 left, there they were on the Orlando three, ready to cut the lead to just three with eight minutes left. And in this league, that is nothing with a lifetime to play, especially because of the propensity of on-side kicking.
But in maybe the play of the game, Orlando's DeAndrew Rubin, who had returned the kickoff 56 yards for a touchdown, intercepted Dolezel on first-and-goal, and when the Predators cashed in seven points on the possession, cruel reality set in for the Desperados.
They were not going to Vegas.
"Things we've done all season right came back to haunt us," McClay said.
And the suddenness of being done began haunting them, too.
"There is nowhere to go, nothing to do," McClay said of their fate on Monday. "All we can do is talk about next year and what we need to do, and that's a long way away."
Their brilliant season having been just flushed away.