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Pittsburgh 2 at Jacksonville 261984 Week 18 - Friday, June 22, 1984
JACKSONVILLE, FL (UPI) - The Jacksonville Bulls may finally have found their element in a rainy 26-2 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Maulers.
The element was water, which poured from the skies in a torrential thunderstorm that delayed the Friday night game for an hour and 20 minutes and left Jacksonville's Gator Bowl partially submerged for much of the first half.
"We might be kin to an alligator." said head coach Lindy Infante, whose team finished its inaugural season with a 6-12 record. Sloppy ball handling, aggravated by steady rain caused the 3-15 Maulers to make three critical first half turnovers deep in their own territory that set Jacksonville up for short scoring drives.
"I told them the winner of this game would be the team with the fewest turnovers." Infante said. Bulls cornerback Kevin Gray forced the first turnover by blocking a Larry Swider Punt, picking it up and returning it to the Pittsburgh six. Four plays later, Jacksonville quarterback Robbie Mahfouz tossed a two-yard scoring pass to Robert Young for the opening score.
"We certainly didn t help ourselves." said interim Mauler coach Ellis Rainsberger. "They converted everything we gave them." The Maulers also lost balls when Bulls linebacker Tom Dinkel intercepted a pass in the first quarter and returned it to Pittsburgh's 28, and on a second quarter Swider fumble that gave the Bulls possession on Pittsburgh's 11 on downs.
Mahfouz capped Dinkel's interception with a three-yard scoring run and fullback Mike Whiting followed Swider's fumble with a two-yard touchdown run. Mahfouz also threw a 25 yard TD pass to Larry Mason in the second quarter.
"It was wet but I've played under these conditions before." Mahfouz said. When the rain dried up in the second half, so did the Bulls' scoring. Pittsburgh was able to pick up two points on a safety late in the fourth quarter to prevent a shutout but was not able to get back into the game.
"I thought we could regain the momentum but we never did." said 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier.
Despite the rain, Bulls officials claimed attendance reached 31,843, giving the Bulls the USFL season attendance record with an average of more than 46,000 fans at each of nine home games.