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The XFL 3.0 launch was quite successful two weeks ago as the inaugural games were mostly competitive as rule changes and innovations did their part to add extra spice to the action for fans. That being said, could the league deliver a second helping of awesome to keep trending toward defying the odds for success in spring football?
Thursday Night: St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Seattle Sea Dragons, 20-18
Thursday night NFL games have received their share of criticism over the years. However, the Sea Dragons finding themselves on the wrong side of a heartbreaker once again providing a competetive game XFL fans crave. While their quarterback Ben DiNucci may be the league’s best, his 196 yards passing with two touchdowns weren’t enough to keep A.J. McCarron and the BattleHawks at bay. A game-winning 44-yard field goal by Donny Hageman made the most of McCarron’s 184-yard passing effort with a passing and rushing touchdown.
BACK-TO-BACK COMEBACK THRILLERS.
DONNY CALLED GAME. pic.twitter.com/vqqF79brTZ
— St. Louis Battlehawks (@XFLBattlehawks) February 24, 2023
But with all the criticism that NFL games have gotten playing on Thursday, the XFL has shown its action can be strong in a short week. With 500,000+ views on FX, the numbers are thinner than weekend games, but for a weeknight primetime showing on a lesser known TV network, that’s not a bad showing.
Saturday night DC Defenders vs. Vegas Vipers, 18-6
There was plenty working against this game with the poor weather and the awful state of Cashman Field. The soggy conditions from the wind and heavy rain lead each team’s kicker to slip on either a field goal or a kickoff to impact the flow of the game. With head coach Rod Woodson’s Vipers up 6-0 early, it looked like he might bring his club to 1-1 on the year in a game with limited scoring thanks to the elements.
While both teams threw for fewer than 100 yards, it was the DC Defenders who got explosive and adapted with 229 yards rushing. Quarterback D’Eriq King and running back Abram Smith each ran in touchdowns while starting quarterback Jordan Ta’amu used is legs plenty to help his team drop 18 unanswered points. Smith had 11 carries for 71 yards, Ta’amu had 12 for 68 and King went four and 32.
That being said, Cashman field might be the only negative thing that XFL Chairwoman Dany Garcia and president Russ Brand had to answer for during their media availability leading into the Sunday afternoon game.
Sunday Afternoon: San Antonio Brahmas vs. Orlando Guardians, 30-12
Unfortunately for those in the Orlando area, it appears they are the cellar dwellers of the XFL thus far. While they may not be the only 0-2 team in the league, they are the only squad to be blown out both weeks so far. Granted, the field conditions in Vegas made the aging Camping World Stadium look like a gem of a venue, but head coach Terrell Buckley is again left reeling. This week though, he threw his squad under the bus during the broadcast of the game.
After beating the #orlando @xflguardians 30-12 in their @xfl home opener, #sanantonio @xflbrahmas HC Hines Ward comments on how he felt about getting his franchises first win. #StandGuard #HornsForward #xfl @3ptCnvrsn pic.twitter.com/bFhBENMrws
— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 27, 2023
Congratulations to Brahmas head coach and former Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Hines Ward for his first franchise win. One can only think this means that much more after what he had to deal with as the Head of Football Development of the Alliance of American Football which fell apart five years ago before concluding its first season due to financial collapse. San Antonio is now tied for 2nd place in the South division after the outcome of the Sunday night game.
Sunday Night: Arlington Renegades vs. Houston Roughnecks, 23-14
Head coach Wade Phillips Roughnecks’ defense is going to be a force in this league and we saw it again in Week 2 where they got an interception on the first play of the game. While the Renegades battled back after going down 11-0 early, Houston held Arlington to 163 total yards on the evening as they failed to score in the 2nd half. The Roughnecks took the ball away three times snagging two interceptions and a fumble.
Jontre Kirklin is a beast!! pic.twitter.com/XkiJOOyHOM
— Houston Roughnecks (@XFLRoughnecks) February 27, 2023
Despite the Houston offense suffering three lost fumbles, quarterback Brandon Silvers did his job delivering 176 yards passing with two touchdowns. The longest play of the night was by Jontre Kirkland who racked up 40 of his 56 yards for the evening on one of his two completions from Silvers.