DC Defenders Clinch XFL Playoffs With Win Over Seattle Sea Dragons

DC Defenders Clinch Playoffs With Win Over Seattle

In the finale of week eight in the XFL, the DC Defenders visited the Seattle Sea Dragons in their pivotal second matchup of the season at Lumen Field.

There were a few key headlines entering this XFL North contest, starting with the intense playoff race in the North. The Defenders entered the week a game ahead of Seattle and St. Louis in the division race. With St. Louis winning their game this week, a win for either DC or Seattle would be crucial in cementing their playoff hopes. Even further, the Defenders entered this week with a prime opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with a win. For Seattle, a win would go a long way in ensuring a playoff berth in the near future.

Another headline entering the game was the addition of NFL veterans to each team. Seattle signed RB Phillip Lindsay this past week after multiple RBs went down with injuries. While the Defenders added S DJ Swearinger last week due to a multitude of injuries in the secondary.

First Quarter

The Defenders started with the ball after Brandon Smith returned the opening kickoff for DC. Smith started as KR with Ezzard and Sails out.

After a punt decision by Defenders HC Reggie Barlow on a fourth and one, Seattle started their first possession of the game inside their own twenty yard line. DC held the Sea Dragons to a punt on a quick three and out drive.

DC’s next drive started with back to back passes to Chris Blair, the second one going for a blazing 52 yard gain, inside the five yard line.

The deep completion was followed up by an Abram Smith rushing TD, and Lucky Jackson 2pt conversion catch to make it a 8-0 Defenders lead.

With the first quarter winding down, Seattle was slowly making their way into the DC red zone.

Nonetheless, the Defenders led the Sea Dragons 8-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

Seattle was able to pick up where they left off after flipping sides, converting on a fourth and two attempt that led to a two yard Phillip Lindsay rushing touchdown on his debut. Seattle was able to get their 3pt attempt moved up after a pass interference penalty, but was unable to convert to keep the lead with DC 8-6.

Defenders QB Jordan Ta’amu took numerous shots early in this game, both inside and outside of the pocket. Even being forced to leave the game for a short amount of time in the second quarter. Ta’amu was heard on a hot mic during the broadcast saying he had a “stinger” in his shoulder, but remained in the game.

Ta’amu showed Defenders fans that he was feeling fine on a touchdown drive just before halftime, which was capped off by RB Ryquell Armstead on the 11 yard TD catch.

 

The touchdown was followed up by another Jackson 2pt conversion catch to make it a 16-6 Defenders lead at halftime.

Halftime Analysis

 

Third Quarter

Seattle began the second half with possession, but once again failed at generating anything positive due to the relentless pressure by Gregg Williams and the Defenders defense.

DC’s opening drive of the second half turned into points on the Ta’amu to Alex Ellis 14 yard connection for a touchdown.

Seattle sacked Ta’amu on the two point conversion, causing a fumble and returning it to the end zone for the two points, making it 22-8 DC.

Seattle carried that momentum onto offense, with DiNucci finding WR Juwan Green up the seam for a rapid 46 yard touchdown. DiNucci found Blake Jackson on the 1pt conversion to make it 22-15 DC.

 

Defenders QB D’Eriq King started the next drive for DC, but turned the ball over on a fumbled option handoff.

DC was able to quickly reclaim possession after DL Joe Wallace improbably intercepted a Ben DiNucci tipped pass at the line of scrimmage. How can you not enjoy a big man interception?

With King still in at QB, the Defenders offense sputtered following the turnover, resulting in another Whelan punt for DC.

The third quarter ended with the Defenders leading Seattle 22-15.

Fourth Quarter

Seattle opened the fourth with a 29 yard field goal by Dominik Eberle, making the score 22-18 DC.

DC opened up their next possession with uncharacteristic misses by Ta’amu and the receivers, but were fortunately bailed out by Seattle penalties. With just under eight minutes remaining, Ta’amu led DC into the red zone and found WR Brandon Smith underneath for a five yard touchdown, making it a 28-18 DC lead. The touchdown capped off an impressive seven minute drive for DC’s offense, with the penalty playing a major part.

Seattle was not ready to go away just yet, as DiNucci found Juwan Green over the secondary on the next drive for a 56 yard touchdown. Green finished the game with 7 catches for 142 yards, and 2 touchdowns. A breakout game for the former University at Albany receiver.

After an unsportsmanlike penalty on Seattle, Seattle was forced to go for the 3pt conversion from the DC 25 yard line, which they somehow converted on this indescribable play:

 

DC regained possession, and Ta’amu wasted no time connecting with Chris Blair for another highlight reel touchdown for 70 yards. Making the score 34-27, DC leading.

Blair somehow topped his stellar performance from last week with an even better one this week, finishing with 5 receptions for 148 yards, and a touchdown.

With just two minutes remaining, DiNucci and the Seattle offense orchestrated an impressive drive that led to a Jahcour Pearson 14 yard touchdown, to make it 34-33 with just 32 seconds remaining in the game. Pearson was relatively quiet today, but showed up when needed.

Seattle HC Jim Haslett decided to go for the win and try the 2pt conversion, rather than going for the 1pt conversion and tying the game. After they were unsuccessful on the 2pt attempt, they attempted the 4th and 15 onside kick replacement, which they were also unsuccessful on with the DC defense holding firm.

Thus, ending a phenomenal XFL North game with the DC Defenders defeating the Seattle Sea Dragons, 34-33.

Final Thoughts

With the win, the Defenders clinch an XFL playoff berth and will have an opportunity to host a semifinal game at Audi Field with a win next week vs. Arlington.

Jordan Ta’amu continues to play better each week, even statistically as he went 17/26 with 247 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Ta’amu’s only turnover came on the 2pt attempt that Seattle returned, but nonetheless another highly efficient game for Ta’amu.

League leading rusher Abram Smith was relatively quiet this week, finishing with 17 carries for 66 yards, and a touchdown

For Seattle, they drop to 5-3 with the loss, and will travel to St. Louis next week for what is most likely a “win and in” game for both teams in that matchup.

What are your thoughts on this game between the DC Defenders and Seattle Sea Dragons? Which XFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

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