San Jose SaberCats

Years of Existence: 1995-2008, 2011-2015
Venues: HP Pavilion (San Jose, CA)
1995 - Western Division champions, playoff appearance
1996 -
1997 - Playoff appearance
1998 - Playoff appearance
1999 -
2000 - Western Division champions, semifinal appearance
2001 - Western Division champions, semifinal appearance
2002 - AFL Champions
2003 - Western Division champions, semifinal appearance
2004 - AFL Champions
2005 - Playoff appearance
2006 - Western Division champions, semifinal appearance
2007 - AFL Champions
2008 - American Conference champions, championship game appearance
2011 -
2012 - Playoff appearance
2013 - Playoff appearance
2014 - Semifinal appearance
2015 - AFL Champions
Lifetime Record: 217-110
Home: 131-39
Away: 84-71
Neutral: 2-0
Playoffs: 19-12
Average Attendance: 8,815

The San Jose SaberCats, despite several winning seasons, have been a disappointment in the playoffs many times. An 8-4 regular season propelled the team to a playoff berth in just their first year. After whooping Orlando three weeks earlier, Orlando returned a 54-27 drubbing with one of their own: 55-37. Both games were played in San Jose. Perhaps the SaberCats would have been better off playing on the road; they only lost one away game all season. In 1996, the Cats turned in the wrong direction. They finished the regular season at 6-8, with only one win on the road. Four of the losses were by eight points or less. In 1997, the SaberCats returned to the postseason following an 8-6 regular season finish. After defeating the Barnstormers in Iowa in overtime, the Cats traveled back to Iowa for the first round of the playoffs. Iowa would win this time, 68-59. In 1998, the Cats did not start well (0-3) or finish well, (1-4) but managed to make the playoffs at 7-7. The Cats would lose on the road at Tampa Bay, 65-46. The following year, the team lost their last three games of the season by a combined 25 points and missed the playoffs. The new millenium dawned with the SaberCats posting a 12-2 regular season. The team won eleven in a row, including a three game road stretch against Milwaukee, (63-60) Grand Rapids, (52-32) and Los Angeles. (75-72) The SaberCats finally won a playoff game, 63-40, against Oklahoma. However, they would come up short 51-42 to Nashville one game before the Arena Bowl. 2001 was almost a complete repeat of 2000. The team finished 10-4 and lost to Nashville in the semifinals, this time by 30 points. Most notable in 2001 was that the Cats won two overtime games in three weeks, with one-point wins over Nashville and Florida. The next year would be San Jose�s finest. The team rolled to several blowout victories, losing only one game by seven points at Arizona. The team opened the playoffs against Tampa Bay with a seven-point victory, The team completed a Florida sweep with a win over Orlando and in the Arena Bowl, avenged a 59-52 loss to Arizona. And did they ever: a 52-14 mauling of the Rattlers. In 2003, the SabreCats chased hopes of a repeat Championship win. The chase ended, as Arizona took their revenge in the semifinals, 66-49. In 2004, the Arizona/San Jose rivalry went the other way. Arizona won both regular season meetings by a combined ten points, but after an 11-5 regular season and playoff wins over Tampa Bay and Chicago, the SaberCats defeated Arizona for their second Championship, 69-62. After a 9-7 season, the SaberCats returned to the postseason in 2005 only to lose to the eventual Champions, Colorado Crush, by eight points. After a 3-6 start to the 2006 season, it appeared that all postseason hopes were lost. However, the Cats ran the table, winning seven straight. In addition to taking a division title, the team got a first round bye in the playoffs. The team then dispatched the Arizona Rattlers for the third time in the season. However, the Sabers would come up short in the semifinals for the fourth time in franchise history, losing to the eventual Champions Chicago Rush, 59-56. In 2007, the SaberCats lost two of their first three games. Both losses came by a combined five points. However, once again under the leader ship of Mark Grieb, the Cats won their final ten games to end the regular season. After a first round bye in the postseason, the Cats played the last two AFL champions, defeating Colorado and Chicago rather handedly. San Jose met the cinderella Columbus Destroyers in Arena Bowl XXI and steamrolled them, 55-33, to win the team's third championship in six years. Mark Grieb led the SaberCats in 2008 in hopes of a repeat championship. After a 5-5 start to the year, the championship run was in doubt. However, like in 2007, San Jose clicked at the right time and won their final six games in a row. James Roe, Cleannord Saintil, and Rodney Wright all caught over 1,000 yards and at least 20 touchdowns each. The SaberCats' playoff run was eased, as they faced Colorado and Grand Rapids, both 6-10 heading into the postseason. In New Orleans, the SaberCats got a chance to defend their title. Despite a last-minute rally and a 22 point fourth quarter, the Soul knocked off San Jose 59-56. The SaberCats returned for 2011, quarterbacked again by Mark Grieb. This season, Grieb threw for a whopping 5,312 yards, 95 touchdowns and 25 picks. Ben Nelson spent eleven games with San Jose, catching 76 balls for 1,019 yards and 24 scores. James Roe tacked on 16 scores in seven games. San Jose got off to a 5-2 start before dropping seven in a row. However, the team still had a chance to make the playoffs if it could win in Spokane. Spokane tied the game at 55 with 1:31 to go in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, the SaberCat return man stepped back into the enzone and was tackled for a safety. San Jose was forced to onside kick and recovered. With four seconds left, Grieb threw to Roe for a touchdown and 61-57 lead. Spokane had one final play with one second left, and Kyle Rowley heaved a 34 yard pass to Randy Hymes for the 63-61 victory. For the 2012 season, Mark Grieb threw for 5,744 yards, 112 touchdowns and 20 picks. Samora Goodson was the only 1,000 yard receiver, with 1,471 yards and 27 scores. James Roe scored 29 times. Defense was a problem for the SaberCats this season. The team allowed 70 or more points in six games, including 90 to Spokane. The team earned the third seed in the playoffs and would play at Arizona. In the previous two meetings, San Jose won 71-70 in overtime and 77-70. In the first meeting, San Jose used a 22-7 fourth quarter to force overtime. In the second meeting, San Jose outscored Arizona 28-7 in the fourth quarter. The third meeting was riddled with stops, picks, and turnovers. The quarterbacks combined for six interceptions, with three others called back on penalties. There were six stops on downs. Grieb only completed 26 of his 57 passes. The Rattlers led 21-14 at halftime and won a 51-48 defensive battle. The 2013 SaberCats went 13-5 in the regular season, with an added home game due to arena troubles in Chicago. Aaron Garcia did quarterback four games for the team before returning to his old home in Orlando. Russ Michna would end up spending 13 games at the helm, throwing for 3,116 yards, 68 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The team produced two 1,000 yard receivers: Jason Willis and Fred Williams. Huey Whittaker came up two yards shy of being the third. Clevan Thomas led the defense and the league with 15 interceptions, returning 6 for scores. San Jose went 5-4 against playoff teams. The defense sacked opponents 41 times and held them to 35% on third down tries. The 13-5 record got the SaberCats into the playoffs and a first round match against top rival Arizona. Three turnovers by San Jose doomed them in a 59-49 defeat on the road. The 2014 SaberCats saw another excellent season. San Jose went 13-5 and earned another playoff berth. Russ Michna quarterbacked the team until he went down with a broken collarbone midway through the season. He passed for 1,901 yards, 44 touchdowns and six picks. He was replaced by Nathan Stanley, who passed for 2,436 yards, 50 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Rod Harper, Reggie Gray, and Jason Willis were all 1,000 yard receivers, while Dominique Curry scored 25 times on 50 receptions. After falling to 2-3 on a young season, San Jose won eleven of their final thirteen. Most notably, they gave Arizona their first loss in week 15 by a count of 62-33. San Jose dominated Spokane in the first round of the playoffs, taking a 28-0 lead at halftime en rout to a 55-28 victory. The National Conference title game would be another matchup between the SaberCats and Rattlers. This time, however, Arizona took San Jose to task, 72-56. San Jose never led in the game. San Jose came into the 2015 season quarterbacked by Erik Meyer who threw for 4,057 yards, 93 touchdowns and just six picks. The SaberCats went 17-1 on the regular season, losing to Los Angeles at home in overtime, of all teams. Otherwise, the margin of victory averaged 22 points per game. Reggie Gray led all receivers with 44 touchdowns and 1,698 yards. San Jose picked 33 passes; Ken Fontenette got 12 of them. Opponents converted less than a third of all third downs, and even less on fourth downs. After plowing through Portland in the opening round of the playoffs, San Jose needed a 29 point fourth quarter to survive Arizona 70-67. The final score came with eight seconds left on a Reggie Gray six yard completion, putting San Jose into the Arena Bowl. After trailing at halftime, San Jose went on a 34-0 second half run to blast Jacksonville and win their first league title since 2007. Amid accusations of paying players under the table and other violations, San Jose ownership pulled the plug on the SaberCats after the 2015 season, citing fiscal responsibility of the new league commissioner.