USFL Week 4 takeaways: Breakers win on last-second TD pass; Stallions still undefeated

Week 4 in the rebooted USFL kicked off Friday with a late-night thriller between the Michigan Panthers and victorious Philadelphia Stars. Saturday saw one team extend its unbeaten start and left another still searching for its first victory. Sunday saw the outcome in doubt until it was decided in the final seconds.

USA TODAY Sports offers up some takeaways from all the USFL Week 4 action:

Gutsy call in final seconds pushes Breakers over the top

New Orleans Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter completed 21 of 26 passes for 397 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's 23-16 win over the Houston Gamblers.
New Orleans Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter completed 21 of 26 passes for 397 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's 23-16 win over the Houston Gamblers.

With the game tied Sunday and the clock winding down, New Orleans Breakers coach Larry Fedora had a decision to make.

The logical move was to shave off as much time as possible and give kicker Taylor Bertolet a chance to win it with his fourth field goal of the game.

After Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter spiked the ball to stop the clock with 16 seconds left, setting up a third-and-8 situation at the Houston Gamblers' 28-yard line, New Orleans could run one more play and call its final timeout before sending the kicking team on the field.

However, those instructions weren't communicated quickly enough and Sloter was forced to use that timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. With no margin for error, Fedora sent the offense back on the field ... but instead of trying to get a little closer for the potential game-winning kick, the Breakers took the go-for-broke approach.

Sloter threw deep and found Jonathan Adams in the end zone to give New Orleans a 23-16 victory.

Sloter needed only four plays to drive the Breakers 56 yards in 32 seconds for the touchdown, with the key play a 25-yard strike to Sal Canella that set up the winning score.

Sloter finished with 397 yards through the air, completing 21 of his 26 passes. The Breakers outgained the Gamblers on offense 506-155, but committed four turnovers, which kept the game close throughout.

Brutal finish for Jeff Fisher's Michigan Panthers

Michigan Panthers kicker Michael Carrizosa holds his hands to his head after missing the game-winning field goal against the Philadelphia Stars.
Michigan Panthers kicker Michael Carrizosa holds his hands to his head after missing the game-winning field goal against the Philadelphia Stars.

It seemed a lock that the Panthers were going to level their record at 2-2 after running back Reggie Corbin plowed ahead for 2 yards on third-and-1 at the Philadelphia Stars' 5-yard line with 33 seconds to go. Philadelphia was out of timeouts and had yielded three third-down conversions on the Panthers' drive that began with 5:17 to go.

Trailing 26-25, Michigan called timeout with 3 seconds to go to set kicker Michael Carrizosa up with a chip-shot field goal for the win.

Unfortunately, Carrizosa proved to be the goat rather than the hero. He booted the 21-yard field goal off the upright as the Stars hung on for a stunning victory.

Brutal.

Beyond dropping the Panthers to 1-3 on the season, the miss put a damper on what was a brilliant game for Corbin. He finished with 152 yards on 12 carries and scored an 88-yard touchdown that marked the longest run in the USFL this season.

Pittsburgh remains winless after lackluster effort against Generals

The Maulers are still the only team not to register a win in the USFL after a 21-13 loss on Saturday against the New Jersey Generals in a North Division contest. The Maulers came into the game as the league's lowest-scoring team and nothing they showed against New Jersey improved on that.

The Generals got on the board first when De’Andre Johnson rolled to his left and found Alonzo Moore wide open and took it to the house for a 62-yard scoring strike.

New Jersey padded its lead to 11 early in the third quarter after a Cameron Echols-Luper kickoff return set the Generals up in great field position. The Generals hit pay dirt seven plays later on a Darius Victor 3-yard touchdown run. Victor leads the USFL with four rushing scores this year.

The Maulers could only muster 256 yards of total offense, while the Generals used an efficient passing game to move the chains, completing 20-of-24 passes to hold the ball for almost 35 minutes.

Birmingham Stallions defensive back JoJo Tillery (27) celebrates a defensive stop against the Tampa Bay Bandits during the first half at Protective Stadium.
Birmingham Stallions defensive back JoJo Tillery (27) celebrates a defensive stop against the Tampa Bay Bandits during the first half at Protective Stadium.

Birmingham Stallions remain undefeated

It was hardly the most aesthetically pleasing game, but the Birmingham Stallions did just enough Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Bandits, winning 16-10 to move to 4-0 on the season.

The Stallions – boosted perhaps by (understandably) having the most fan support of any team in the Birmingham, Alabama-based league – were superb on defense. They yielded just 158 total yards against the Bandits. Which is good, because the Stallions' offense managed a mere 228 yards while posting essentially identical yards-per-play averages (3.5 for Bandits; 3.7 for Stallions).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USFL takeaways: Stallions move to 4-0; Maulers fall to 0-4