Here we are, the final game of the 2023 XFL season. Although it’s the last game, there is a lot on the line. Currently, the nothern playoff picture hinges on it.
The Seattle Sea Dragons need to win the game, and pull in at least 34-points or hold Vegas below 26. The Vegas Vipers have struggled this season, currently holding a record of 2-7. That being said, you know they’d love to play spoiler in tonights matchup.
Seattle will also be playing tonights game in memory of Chris Smith, who unexpectadly passed away earlier this week.
Vegas won the coin flip and took possession to kick off the game. But, such as their season has gone, they stalled out early leading to a quick punt.
Ben DiNucci would now take the field with hopes to secure some early points. The offense looked collected on this drive, moving the ball time and time again. That is until they crossed midfield. The team ultimately had to settle for three. Eberle came out, but went wide left on the attempt, keeping the game scoreless.
With roughly 5-minutes remaining in the first Vegas would get another chance on offense. Still, they struggled to find their rhythm, leading to yet another punt.
Seattle came on the field and quickly came off with a three and out of their own.
Beyond winning the game, Seattle needs to put up a good amount of points if they want to keep their season alive.
Seattle would start the second receiving the punt from Vegas, both of which haven’t been able to much on offense. DiNucci just could not connect with any of his targets. He was getting the ball where it needed to be, but his receivers failed to pull it in. They decided to switch to the run game, but it too late. Seattle was once again put in a position to punt it away.
Jalan McClenson now had another chance to secure the first points of the matchup. The next drive was more of the same, leading to another punt.
Neither team could get moving, that is until nearly the 3-minute marker. DiNucci connected with Ben Gordon, but it didn’t come without error. The ball was fumbled, but ultimately recovered by the Sea Dragons, moving them up the field.
They decided to go back to the ground game once passed mid-field hoping to get something going. DiNucci was able to move the chains to keep the drive going by running it for the first down himself. Seattle was now in the best position they’ve been in all game, near the 30 and well within striking distance.
Seattle secured a first down to bring the game to the two-minute warning.
For the first time this game Seattle was within 20-yards of the end zone. DiNucci wasted no time, finding a gap on second down and running it in for the score.
The team could not secure the 2-point conversion, but now held a 6-0 lead over the Vegas Vipers.
Ben DiNucci takes things into his own hands (or feet) and runs it in himself for the first score of the night
Seattle opted for a 4th and 15 attempt istead of kicking it off, and they were able to pull it off. This gave the team a fresh set of downs, but not much time to execute.
With 3-seconds left in the half, the team decided to bring out Eberle for a whopping 61-yard field goal attempt. To his credit, he came close, but could not secure the points.
The Sea Dragons would go to the half with a 6-0 lead, but very shy of the 34 needed to secure a playoff berth.
Seattle would start the half with the ball, looking to continue where they left off. DiNucci was in a spot where he had a lot of time, he ultimately found Blake Jackson down the field to bring them near mid-field. He tried to air it out once more, but lightning didn’t strike twice.
They were only on second down, and after moving the ball a little, they moved it a lot. DiNucci found Jachour Pearson open, which led to a 33-yard touchdown reception.
They were able to tack on two more, giving them a 14-0 lead over the Vipers.
The Sea Dragons were now only 6-point away from clinching the final XFL playoff spot.
Vegas still had a shot to play spoilers, even if they didn’t pull out the win. It could all come down to points. McClendon took a solid hit, but broke the tackle and moved the ball and the chains for the team.
Just when it looked like Vegas was finally building a good drive, the Sea Dragons defense came up with a huge pick.
Seattle was marching the ball down the field, and it looked inevitable that they’d score. At the goal line, DiNuccie was ultimately picked, giving Vegas possession and denying Seattle the score.
It looked like Vegas would give it up quick, but for the first time they converted on thrid down. Matthew Sexton grapped the reception and added some much needed yards after the catch.
Unfortunately for the Vegas Vipers, that was about the end of their good luck. The team was once again forced to punt it away to Seattle.
Seattle’s offense was back on the field and they knew that as long as their defense held up they could secure the playoff spot without hitting the magic number. At this point they were just trying to run the clock out. This could be why they found themselves being picked off again, giving the Vipers the ball 25-yards out from the end zone.
McClendon found Matthew Sexton for a huge reception, which at first looked like a Vipers touchdown. The Sea Dragons defense caught up to Sexton, forcing a fumble. Luckily for Vegas, the ball went out of bounds, giving them a first down at the 1-yard line.
TOUCHDOWN: Shai McKenzi secures the first @XFLVipers TD of the night!