Must-see matchups: ArenaBowl XVIII
June 22, 2004 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) News Release
SAN JOSE QB MARK GRIEB vs. ARIZONA QB SHERDRICK BONNER
For San Jose's MARK GRIEB and Arizona's SHERDRICK BONNER ArenaBowl XVIII will present an opportunity for redemption. For Grieb, who threw for 70 or more touchdowns in each of the last three seasons, it will be his first opportunity to claim an ArenaBowl championship. After pacing the SaberCats to a 12-0 record in 2003, Grieb (the AFL Offensive Player of the Year) broke his collarbone in the 13th game of the season against Arizona and had to watch from the sidelines as back-up JOHN DUTTON paced the SaberCats to four consecutive wins and its first title with a 52-14 win over the Arizona Rattlers in ArenaBowl XVI. Grieb would return the following season and throw for a career-high 3,966 yards and 72 touchdowns, only to see No. 6-seeded Arizona shock San Jose at home, 66-49, in the semifinals. This year, Grieb finally reaches the ArenaBowl as he carried an injury-riddled squad on his shoulders. Despite losing a bevy of front line players for various periods of time, Grieb was a rock throughout the season. He reached career highs in completions (335), completion percentage (73.0), yards (4,111), touchdowns (75), and quarterback rating (133.45) in guiding second-seeded San Jose to an 11-5 record and No. 2 seeding. In two playoff games, Grieb completed 68.1 percent of his passes and threw nine touchdowns with no interceptions in wins over Chicago and Tampa Bay.
One of the most prolific passers in Arena Football League history, Bonner will be looking for redemption for different reasons. After winning his first two ArenaBowl appearances with wins over Orlando in 1994 (36-31) and KURT WARNER's Iowa Barnstormers (55-33) in 1997, the 11-year veteran has lost his last two ArenaBowl appearances by huge margins, losing to San Jose (52-14) and Tampa Bay (43-29). In those two games, Bonner struggled, completing just 15-of-31 for 164 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against Tampa Bay in last year's classic and hitting just 14-of-32 for 172 yards with one TD and one interception against the SaberCats in ArenaBowl XVI. Like Grieb, Bonner had an outstanding campaign in 2004, completing 347-of-534 passes for 3,833 yards, 65 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Bonner has been even more impressive in the postseason. In guiding the Rattlers to a pair of wins over Los Angeles and Colorado, Bonner has hit on 76 percent of his passes, throwing for 484 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
The ArenaBowl XVIII match-up between quarterbacks is a mixture of similarities and stark contrasts. Both Bonner (6-4) and Grieb (6-3) are tall, but Grieb is the classic pocket passer, while Bonner is shiftier and will throw the ball from odd angles. Grieb has been sacked 22 times this season, while Bonner has been brought down just six times.
Bonner will keep the ball on the goal line and has scored nine rushing touchdowns this season; while Grieb will rely on his fullbacks or BARRY WAGNER (12 rushing TDs) to get the ball over from inside the two-yard line. One main similarity both quarterbacks possess is their ability to lead their team to victory. Bonner is 99-37 as a starting quarterback, while Grieb has led San Jose to more victories in the last three years than any quarterback in the Arena Football League (38-11 as a starter).
The two quarterbacks also bring out the best in each other. In 12 games head-to-head, each quarterback has won six times -- although one of Grieb's losses to Bonner came in back-up action when he played for Anaheim in 1997. In those 12 games, the quarterbacks have compiled nearly identical stats, with Bonner averaging 225.3 yard passing per game to Grieb's 234.8. Bonner has 60 touchdown passes to Grieb's 59 in those match-ups, while the two quarterbacks have combined for 119 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in more than 720 attempts. ArenaBowl XVIII will feature not one, but two great quarterbacks.
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