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With the novelty of XFL 3.0 Week 1 gone and Week 2 normalizing the expectations set for competitive games, Week 3 is where the rubber meets the road for the XFL to make their presence known by showing consistency.
That being said, we’ve been told throughout the season that offenses would catch up to defenses in their level of performance. Considering new records for the league’s highest-scoring game were set and rest throughout the weekend, it would appear the XFL has reached that point.
Saturday Afternoon – Seattle Sea Dragons vs. Vegas Vipers, 30-26
Action returned to the venue that was criticized the hardest for its field conditions last week, Cashman Field in Las Vegas. It somehow seemed appropriate as both the Vipers and Sea Dragons took the field in this game. Like Cashman field without a downpour of rain, one of these two teams was basically guaranteed to look better than last week as they were both 0-2 heading into this contest.
Despite a slow start, Seattle’s offense was good for 377 total yards and four passing touchdowns, including a 65-yard game-winner on 4th fourth down with less than 1:00 left. Arguably the best duo in the league, quarterback Ben DiNucci found wide receiver Josh Gordon who shifted and jaunted his way into the endzone. Dinucci completed 29 of his 37 passes.
— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) March 5, 2023
As the game went on, “looking better” was the theme for both teams. The Sea Dragons running back Morgan Ellison got his first start for DC playing alongside arguably the league’s best quarterback in Ben DiNucci. Before he was knocked out of the game in the 4th quarter with a knee injury, Ellison turned in 103 yards on 17 carries.
The Vipers had their own roster improvements that made an impact as well. Quarterback Brett Hundley got the nod over Luis Perez and seems to have solidified himself as the starter after doing his part in not only the Vipers’ best performance of the season but the league’s highest-scoring game to that point. Hundley put up 266 yards passing with two scores going 13-of-28.
This was the highest game in XFL history until. . .
Sunday 1:00 pm – St. Louis Battlehawks vs. DC Defenders, 34-28
While the Saturday game established Vegas as the cellar dweller for the North division, this game’s action served the opposite purpose. This game established first place in the North as the Defenders took sole possession of the top spot, now at 3-0. The 62 combined points represented the new highest-scoring game in the league’s history.
— D.C. Defenders (@XFLDefenders) March 5, 2023
Battlehawks’ quarterback A.J. McCarron had a formidable night completing 26 of his 42 passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions. However, the Defenders earned their nickname by holding the ‘Hawks to 56 yards on the ground as well as defensive back Michael Joseph recording a 41-yard pick-six.
On the other side of the ball, DC utilized both quarterbacks, Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King to put points on the board. Ta’amu had the lion’s share of the snaps completing 11-of-20 pass attempts with a touchdown. He also scored running in for a two-yard touchdown on one of his 10 carries for 22 yards.
King completed all three of the passes he threw, including a touchdown to top off a drive that featured the running offense.
Defenders running backs Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead also combined for 105 yards on 17 carries. Although they dominated the ground game, it kept McCarron out of sync late to help DC secure the win.
As this was a battle of the undefeated, both teams were chippy throughout the game and it boiled over into a full-on skirmish with 16 seconds remaining in the game that led to three player ejections — this is the kind of environment where rivalries are born.
Sunday 4:00 pm Orlando Guardians vs. Arlington Renegades 10-9
These struggling (1-2) teams were battling to escape the depths of the South division. The Guardians had a shot late to escape with their first win. Unfortunately like the Vipers, Orlando played their best game this season only to come away with a loss despite starting the third consecutive game with a scoring drive.
The Renegades forced two fumbles to increase their season total to eight. The defense was on display for both sides as they played two scoreless quarters in the second and third quarters.
Orlando quarterback Paxton Lynch was good for 219 years on 19-of-31 passing attempts while leading his team in rushing on 10 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. Lynch threw a touchdown early in the 4th quarter breaking a 3-3 tie that was knotted up in the first quarter.
— Arlington Renegades (@XFLRenegades) March 5, 2023
Meanwhile, Arlington was the only team to complete the only successful point-after attempt in the afternoon. After Kyle Sloter found Tyler Vaughns for the score with just under 8:00 left to play, running back De’Vonte Smith bashed in the game-winning point from two yards out.
Sunday 8:00 pm San Antonio Brahmas vs. Houston Roughnecks, 22-13
After getting their first win of the year against the struggling Guardians in Orlando, the Brahmas had to prepare for Houston, the league’s best team. The Roughnecks remained the last undefeated team in the South division in the closest game they’ve played this year.
Houston’s quarterback connected on 24 of his 35 passes for 278 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. While that’s a good stat line, it was the Roughneck’s defense that became the story of this ball game.
Brahmas quarterback Jack Doan had only nine completions for 64 yards, a touchdown and an interception while the total rushing yards were held below 100 for San Antonio.
OUR DEFENSE IS ON LOCK 🔒 pic.twitter.com/vdG0loYX9J
— Houston Roughnecks (@XFLRoughnecks) March 6, 2023
The clutch moment of the game was the goal line stand where the Roughnecks held fast for four straight downs on the one yard-line with just under 4:00 left in the contest.
Running back Jacques Patrick gained 36 of the Brahmas’ 98 rushing yards while scoring a touchdown.