The XFL returned to the spotlight over the weekend, after the pandemic prematurely ended their first return campaign. If the opening week was any indicator, the league rebooted by Dany Garcia and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is bound for success. Social media was abuzz with people sounding off either about the players in the game or the creative and fun rules that made the game more exciting.
There was a lot of action from the XFL over the weekend, so here’s a roundup of the biggest events from Week 1.
Arlington Renegades 22, Vegas Vipers 20
The opening game for the new XFL came to a thrilling conclusion, with the Arlington Renegades defeating the Vegas Vipers 22-20. Vegas jumped out to an 14-3 lead on the back of QB Luis Perez and former Minnesota Vikings WR Jeff Badet. However, the Arlington defense helped lead the Renegades back for the victory. The Renegades sacked Perez three times and intercepted him twice, one of those being returned for a touchdown.
Renegades QB Drew Plitt wasn’t spectacular, throwing for 172 yards and an interception, but he did help guide the Renegades down the field for a couple of scoring drives in the second half.
The Vipers had the chance to convert on a two-point conversion to tie the game at the end, but Perez was sacked by Renegades defender TJ Barnes. Then, Vegas had the opportunity to convert on a 4th and 15 instead of an onside kick (one of the XFL’s new rules, we’ll come back to this one later) but failed. Game over, and a win for the Renegades.
.@XFLVipers score late but can't convert the 2-point attempt @XFL2023 pic.twitter.com/6liVzG3tMo— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 18, 2023
The Renegades picked up the win, but ultimately they have to be more consistent on offense. The passing game sputtered for most drives and they constantly put themselves behind the sticks. If the defense continues to play like they did against Vegas, however, they’ll be a problem. For the Vipers, they only ran for 1.7 yards per carry, forcing everything onto Perez’s shoulders. They have to be more complementary on offense to hold leads like they had at halftime.
Houston Roughnecks 33, Orlando Guardians 12
The Roughnecks are coached by NFL coaching legend/defensive mastermind Wade Phillips, and boy was that on display Saturday night. The Roughnecks picked off both Orlando QBs for a total of three interceptions and sacked both QBs for a total of seven times, cruising to a 33-12 victory.
The Roughneck offense also played well, despite turning the ball over twice. QB Brandon Silvers threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns (he also threw two interceptions), and the run game generated four yards per carry. It’s all about the defense in Houston, however, and if the offense can iron out the kinks, then they should continue to be one of the better teams in the league.
Cole Hunter scored on this play en route to a Houston #Roughnecks win over the Orlando #Guardians, 33-12 #XFL2023 #Touchdown pic.twitter.com/sQI1GabS2r— Midwest Sports Network (@MWSNsports) February 19, 2023
St. Louis Battlehawks 18, San Antonio Brahmas 15
If you wanted your XFL moment, whew boy you got it. The Battlehawks came back from being down 12 in the final three minutes to win 18-15, in a thrilling game that saw St. Louis benefit from the new and creative rules the XFL has implemented.
Remember that 4th and 15 instead of onside kick rule? Yeah the Battlehawks converted on it to keep the ball and go down the field to get the win.
In the XFL: Instead of an onside kick, the trailing team can maintain possession with a 4th-and-15 play from its own 25-yard line.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) February 19, 2023
It just worked for the St. Louis BattleHawks.
This was brought to NFL owners in the past but didn't get enough votes.pic.twitter.com/qNP5QukWMy
In order to go from 15-3 to 15-12, the Battlehawks scored a TD, but then converted on a three-point play to bring the game within three. Batthlehawks QB AJ McCarron went 11/14 with two TDs in the fourth quarter, including this strike to WR Austin Proehl, yes, the son of Ricky Proehl.
11/14 133 yards & 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter...AND he called game w/ this DIME. AJ McCarron is HERE. pic.twitter.com/ZYRpPOqNK7— Kyron Samuels (@kyronsamuels) February 19, 2023
A fantastic moment for McCarron, and for the Battlehawks as they get to 1-0.
DC Defenders 22, Seattle Sea Dragons 18
In what was probably the most evenly contested and coached game of the entire weekend, the DC Defenders pulled out the victory over the Seattle Sea Dragons 22-18. The Sea Dragons might’ve had former NFL players in QB Ben DiNucci and WR Josh Gordon, plus father of the Run and Shoot offense June Jones, but the Defenders had DC Gregg Williams, and quite frankly he put DiNucci and the Sea Dragons offense in a blender. DiNucci threw two INTs and only completed 33% of their third down attempts in the loss.
Oh ok the real Ben DiNucci just showed up lol…he threw a pick-six pic.twitter.com/l3qK2ayKXW— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) February 20, 2023
On offense, the Defenders played both QBs, Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King. While Ta’amu struggled in the passing department (8-19 for 68 yards and a pick), King stepped in and provided juice with his legs, forcing another defender into the box. With King and RBs Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead, plus that defense, the Defenders could be another strong team in the league. they just have to iron out that passing game.
After Week 1, here’s how we rank all the teams:
- Houston Roughnecks
- DC Defenders
- Arlington Renegades
- St. Louis Battlehawks
- Seattle Sea Dragons
- Vegas Vipers
- San Antonio Brahmas
- Orlando Guardians