It had been awhile since the Arizona Rattlers tasted defeat.
The two-time defending Arena Football League champions saw their 18-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the San Jose SaberCats two weeks ago.
Now, they’ve got a streak of another kind — a losing streak.
The Spokane Shock scored 23 consecutive points over a span of 6:29 in the third and fourth quarters to down the Rattlers 73-65 in front of a crowd of 9,362 at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Arizona (14-2) jumped out to a 21-0 lead after one quarter on the strength of three touchdown passes from Nick Davila. But the Shock slowly worked their way back into the contest.
The Rattlers took a 52-38 lead late in the third quarter on a 20-yard strike from Davila to Maurice Purify, but Spokane answered in a big way. Mike Washington took the ensuing kickoff back 57 yards for a touchdown. About three minutes later, James Ruffin sacked Davila in the end zone for a safety.
On Spokane’s next possession, quarterback Erik Meyer hooked up with Washington on a 23-yard touchdown pass to give the Shock their first lead at 54-52. Taylor Rowan then clanged the kickoff off one of the uprights and it was recovered by Terrance Moore at the Rattlers’ 4-yard line. Meyer would find Rashaad Carter on a 3-yard scoring pass two plays later to put Spokane up by eight.
But the Rattlers wouldn’t quit. On first and goal from the Spokane 3-yard line and down only two points, Davila fumbled the snap and Ruffin recovered — the fifth Rattlers’ turnover of the game. Meyer found Washington on a 32-yard touchdown pass two plays later, but Rowan missed the point after, keeping the door open for Arizona.
The teams traded touchdowns in their next possessions. Down 73-65 with :07 left, the Rattlers had one last chance, but Davila’s pass was intercepted by Nick Truesdell to seal the game and give Arizona their first back-to-back losses since July of 2012 when they dropped consecutive decisions to Utah and San Antonio.
The loss, coupled with Cleveland’s overtime win over San Antonio, means the Gladiators (15-1) now have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and would host the Arena Bowl should they navigate through the American Conference playoffs.
The Rattlers return home to play the Portland Thunder a week from Saturday at US Airways Center.