XFL Week One - Day Two Recap

XFL – Week 1 – Sunday Recap: "A Huge Success"
by Chris Belcher

The first weekend of the XFL 2.0 is officially in the books. While Saturday featured teams putting up points in bunches, Sunday was a showcase of defenses. Sunday’s slate of games kicked off with Tampa Bay Vipers visiting the New York Guardians at MetLife Stadium. Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride returns to his former home stadium where he won 2 Super Bowls as the Offensive Coordinator of the New York Giants. Even though Gilbride has been out of football since his retirement in 2014, he did not miss a step as his Guardians routed the Vipers, 23-3, behind a stellar defensive performance.

Numbers don’t always tell the story, and this game is a perfect example of that. On paper, the Guardians went 1-10 on 3rd down conversions, totaled 11 first downs for the game and gained 226 total yards. On the other side, the Vipers totaled 394 offensive yards, out gaining the Guardians in both passing and rushing yards. However, the story of the game was the bend-but-don’t-break Guardians defense as they sacked the Vipers five times and forced three turnovers. Those turnovers included an interception thrown in the end zone by Vipers QB Aaron Murray on their first drive, as well as a fumble returned for a TD by cornerback Jamar Summers. The Vipers offense could not put any consistent offense together, coming away with 3 points in four goal-to-go situations.

Former Penn State and Oakland Raiders Quarterback Matt McGloin did not put up stellar numbers for the Guardians, but it was enough to lead the team to victory. McGloin’s rushing TD on the opening drive of the game put the Guardians ahead and they didn’t look back. McGloin said of his offense after the game, “…there were a lot of flashes of how good we could be. We are really close to taking that next step.” The Guardians will look to take that next step against the DC Defenders next weekend, who picked up a win in their first game as well, while the Vipers will be looking for get that first W next weekend against the Seattle Dragons.

The second game of the day saw the return of legendary coach Bob Stoops to the sidelines as he led his Dallas Renegades against the St. Louis Battlehawks. Dallas Quarterback Landry Jones was one of the biggest names announced to participate in the XFL but was sidelined from this opening game due to injury. Instead, Philip Nelson would make the start for the Renegades at Quarterback, and despite throwing 42 passes in the game, it would not be enough as the Battlehawks would come away with the victory, 15-9.

This game was had the lowest combined score of Week 1, despite having an over/under of 52.5.

Battlehawks Quarterback, and Ole Miss product, Jordan Ta’amu used his arm and legs to lead his team to victory, passing for over 200 yards while completing passes to 10 different receivers, as well as adding 77 yards on the ground. Former Florida Gator Running Back Matt Jones would also add 21 carries for 85 yards for the Battlehawks.

The only scoring in the game for the Renegades came in the form of three field goals from former University of Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis.

The Renegades will look to bounce back in Week 2 as they square off against the Los Angeles Wildcats, while the Battlehawks will travel to Houston to play the Renegades next Sunday.

Even though this was the first weekend without NFL games since August, the feedback from many fans was overwhelmingly positive toward the XFL. With the addition of live mics on both the sideline and the field as well as an inside look at the replay officials during a review, these elements give fans an inside look into football like never before. While those things are normally revealed later, the XFL allows a live look, in real-time, giving fans something to really latch onto. Those are certainly not the only tricks the XFL has up their sleeve, and fans are excited to see what is next. The XFL may have a long way to go in order to catch up with the NFL, but as it grows, it certainly will fill the void of spring football. If Week 1 is an indication of what is ahead for the XFL, fans will be for an entertaining brand of football and something they can truly get behind.

You can hear Chris on his podcast, Pipe Bomb Wrestling, found on the podcast platform you currently listen to.

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