By the finish, the Chicago Rush ran it out. They looked beaten, fatigued from an evening in which the Utah Blaze had thrown over them, bashed them with bone-rattling tackles and put up a ton of points.
The Blaze owned Chicago at EnergySolutions Arena, riding a dominant shutout first quarter to a 68-28 win. Utah looked as complete as it had all season, its 40-point margin of victory the highest since 2007.
The draw of 7,077 couldn't have asked for much more.
"I don't remember our defense holding a team to only 14 points in each half," coach Ron James said. "It wasn't about sacks it was about pressure. We got pressure on the quarterback and forced him to be uncomfortable."
Utah (8-5) started hot, grabbing a 7-0 lead in only two plays on the first possession. Then the defense flexed its muscle, getting two straight turnovers on downs a rarity in the Arena Football League. One of the stops was only a yard out of the Blaze's end zone.
The defensive stops led to a pair of scores for Utah's offense, and suddenly the Blaze had a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Linebacker Antwan Marsh added to the margin, recovering the ball on a botched Rush kick return and scrambling into the end zone.
With a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Blaze never had much to fear from the reeling Rush.
It was a redeeming evening for the Blaze defense, which struggled in the middle of the season. The unit ended with three turnovers on downs and held the league's most efficient passer, Russ Michna, to a paltry 16-for-29 night for 161 yards and only two touchdowns. Chicago (7-5) was also held scoreless in the final quarter.
Defensive back Will Mulder said he sensed the Rush had quit early on.
"We jumped out on them early, and I think they kinda felt like, 'Oh, let's go home,'" he said. "It shows what kind of team we have. If we play like that, nobody's gonna beat us."
Blaze blow out Chicago
R Utah tops the Rush by 40 points, the franchise's biggest win since 2007.
• QB Tommy Grady finishes 32-for-45 with 366 yards and seven touchdowns, putting him at 101 on the season.