The Philly offense, which entered the night ranked first in the league in scoring, cruised early despite the absence of its best weapon and led, 42-34, at the half. After fumbling on the Soul's first play from scrimmage, Derrick Ross headed an impressive ground attack that racked up 95 yards and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh and Jones have dominated the headlines through the air this year, but Ross and the run game are becoming increasingly critical heading toward the playoffs.
"Actually, I didn't," Ross said when asked if he expected such a big workload. "Last game, we couldn't run that much because we got down. This game, we started out running a little bit more to even it up and to have a better chance at a good outcome."
The 6-foot, 240-pound Ross finished with 83 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and added two receptions for 27 yards and two touchdowns receiving. As a member of the Chicago Bears, Plank saw firsthand what a rushing attack could do for a football team.
"Let's face it, football is becoming kindler and gentler in all leagues," Plank said. "We have guys on our team that don't want to go to the ground — they tackle standing up. You can't tackle Derrick Ross standing up. What I like about it is he brings a dimension of physicality to the game that most teams don't have."
Raudabaugh added five touchdown throws, the defense forced five turnovers and Jeff Hughley returned a kickoff for touchdown in the type of complete team effort that the Soul will have to replicate to capture its goal of an ArenaBowl victory — especially now without Jones.
"I feel as though we're pretty dynamic on all sides of the ball," Raudabaugh said. "We're going to find ways to get it into other playmakers' hands."
Philadelphia closes out its regular season in 2 weeks against Utah before opening up the postseason at home. While it is without Jones' playmaking ability, the Soul's play has earned it the right to experiment in these last few games.
"We're doing some things to see if they work or not, and to get them on tape so teams know to respect it," Raudabaugh said.