|Date||August 12, 2011|
|Arena||US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona|
Aaron Garcia, Jacksonville
|Winning coach||Les Moss, Jacksonville|
|Losing coach||Kevin Guy, Arizona|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Paul Burmeister, Kurt Warner, Anthony Herron, Ari Wolfe|
ArenaBowl XXIV was the 24th edition of the championship in the Arena Football League (AFL). The American Conference champion, Jacksonville Sharks, defeated the National Conference champion, Arizona Rattlers, 73–70. It was played on August 12, 2011. The game was hosted at the site of the highest remaining seed throughout the playoffs, which was US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the Rattlers.
The ArenaBowl was scheduled to be played at the site of the highest seed who reaches the championship. Arizona finished with the best record during the regular season. In an interview with AFL Insider on May 9, AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz said playing ArenaBowl XXV in 2012 at a neutral site is a strong option. The ArenaBowl was played at the highest seed in the game since the AFL's inception in 1987 until 2004. From 2005 to 2008, it was at a neutral site, Las Vegas and New Orleans. In 2010, the ArenaBowl returned to the highest remaining seed setting, as ArenaBowl XXIII was played at the Spokane Arena, home of the Spokane Shock, who won the game.
ArenaBowl XXIV was televised on NFL Network. The game was the highest watched Arena Football League game on the NFL Network, earning a 0.37 rating. That was up 200 percent from ArenaBowl XXIII on NFL Network. The previous record was set a week before when the 2011 AFL American Conference Championship game earned a 0.32 rating between the Georgia Force and Jacksonville Sharks, with the Sharks winning 64-55.
The Arena Football League had fans design the logo for ArenaBowl XXIV in a contest. The league office picked four finalists and fans voted online.
The winner was Myk Crawford, a Spokane Shock fan from Spokane, Washington, which was announced on April 11, 2011.
The story heading into ArenaBowl XXIV was that of Sharks QB Aaron Garcia. At 40 years old, this would be Garcia's first appearance in an ArenaBowl. Garcia began his AFL career in 1995. He holds many of the AFL's all-time passing records and ended the 2011 season with over 50,000 passing and 1,078 career touchdown passes. But with all the stats, he had yet to even play in an AFL championship game before 2011.
2011 was arguably Garcia's best season. He finished the year with a 71.5 completion percentage, 125.24 QB rating and 116 touchdown passes, and 4,933 yards, all career highs.
The Rattlers featured second year AFL QB Nick Davila, who topped Garcia with 117 passing touchdowns during the season. He also completed over 70 percent of his passes and threw over 4,900 yards.
His go-to receiver was Rod Windsor, who had caught 156 passes for 1,830 yards during the season. Windsor was a member of the Cleveland Browns roster during the AFL regular season, but was able to play due to the 2011 NFL lockout. However, the lockout ended just days before ArenaBowl XXIV, and did not play in the title game.
The Rattlers finished the regular season with a league-record 16 wins, and entered the game with an 11-game winning streak, including the playoffs. This was their first ArenaBowl appearance since 2004 when they lost ArenaBowl XVIII. They advanced to the ArenaBowl after defeating the Spokane Shock in the conference semifinals, and the Chicago Rush in the conference championship.
|1||March 12||at Jacksonville||W 55–52|
|2||March 19||Milwaukee||W 62–31|
|3||March 28||at Tulsa||W 69–20|
|4||April 2||Orlando||W 48–47|
|6||April 16||at Kansas City||W 63–49|
|7||April 23||Utah||W 67–61 (OT)|
|8||April 30||at Spokane||L 69–70|
|9||May 7||at San Jose||W 65–43|
|10||May 14||Chicago||L 49–50|
|11||May 20||at New Orleans||W 61–53|
|12||May 28||Cleveland||W 63–42|
|13||June 4||at Utah||W 72–37|
|14||June 11||Iowa||W 61–41|
|15||June 18||San Jose||W 64–57|
|16||June 25||at Philadelphia||W 55–54|
|17||July 2||Spokane||W 68–46|
|18||July 10||at Pittsburgh||W 68–34|
|20||July 23||at Dallas||W 55–49|
|–||July 29||Spokane||W 62–33|
|–||August 6||Chicago||W 54–48|
The Sharks, in just their second year of existence, finished the regular season with a 14–4 record and had the best record in the American Conference, defeating the Orlando Predators and Georgia Force, respectively, to advance to their first ArenaBowl. For 17-year veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia, this was his first ArenaBowl.
|1||March 12||Arizona||L 52–55|
|2||March 19||Georgia||W 71–57|
|3||March 28||New Orleans||W 64–33|
|4||April 1||at Tampa Bay||W 54–30|
|6||April 16||at Pittsburgh||W 65–40|
|7||April 23||Cleveland||W 56–42|
|8||April 30||Orlando||W 76–55|
|9||May 6||at Philadelphia||W 58–42|
|10||May 13||Iowa||W 79–27|
|11||May 21||at Georgia||W 62–55|
|13||June 3||at New Orleans||W 62–55|
|14||June 11||at Orlando||W 68–67|
|15||June 18||Milwaukee||W 62–47|
|16||June 25||Tampa Bay||W 66–41|
|17||July 2||at San Jose||L 70–83|
|18||July 9||Dallas||L 70–75|
|19||July 15||at Kansas City||L 48–49 (OT)|
|20||July 22||Spokane||W 75–56|
|–||July 29||Orlando||W 63–48|
|–||August 8||Georgia||W 64–55|
ArenaBowl XXIV went down as one of the best ArenaBowls in AFL history with Jacksonville Sharks quarterback Aaron Garcia throwing the game winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeron Harvey on the final play of the game.
The Arizona Rattlers drew first blood in ArenaBowl XXIV with a two-yard run by Odie Armstrong giving the Rattlers a 7-0 lead. The teams traded touchdowns throughout the first quarter, but two missed PATs by Jacksonville gave the Rattlers a 14-12 lead. However, the Sharks got a stop and scored in between the first two quarters and took their first lead to open the second quarter, 19-14.
After both teams scored two touchdowns each in the first quarter, the teams each scored three of their own in the second quarter. However, the Rattlers scored two touchdowns in the final 55 seconds of the half, and Jacksonville kicker Marco Capozzoli missed his third PAT of the game.
The Sharks led 32-21 with less than three minutes before half, but Arizona came back to take a 35-32 lead midway through the game.
In the third quarter, both teams each scored a touchdown, but after Capozzoli's fourth and final missed PAT, the Rattlers led 42-38. The fourth quarter of ArenaBowl XXIV saw nine touchdowns and seven lead changes, with five touchdowns coming in the last 1:30.
The Rattlers led 56-53 before Garcia hit Harvey to give the Sharks a 60-56 lead with 1:26. The Rattlers retook the lead after a five-yard TD pass from QB Nick Davila to WR Chris Jackson at the 52 second mark. Twelve seconds later, Garcia hit Jomo Wilson and the Sharks led 67-63.
It appeared Arizona would score the game winning touchdowns after Davila hit Kerry Reed with a 12-yard pass with 21 seconds left in the game, until Garcia threw the game winning pass to give Jacksonville its first ArenaBowl title (in its second season in the AFL) with a 10-yard TD pass to Jeron Harvey with no time on the clock.