Three of the four opening games were decided by just one score. Fans in every stadium were electric, excited to take in this brand new product. San Antonio, in particular, showed out. Over 24,000 folks showed up to watch an exciting showdown between the Brahmas and the Battlehawks.
Generally speaking, it was a successful week one for the XFL. Let’s take a look at what went down this weekend.
The Arlington Renegades snagged the first win of the XFL season, narrowly defeating Vegas. It was quite the win for Bob Stoops’ squad, who fought back from an 11 point halftime deficit.
Offensively, Arlington needs some work. To be honest, the Renegades struggled to do much of anything from an offensive standpoint for almost the entire game. Outside of a ridiculous catch from Jordan Smallwood, it was a slow day for Drew Plitt & Co.
Growing pains are to be expected, especially for offenses in the XFL. That being said, the Renegades have a lot to improve upon heading towards week two. It starts with Drew Plitt. He struggled to push the ball down the field on Saturday, never finding much of a rhythm.
Tough look for Drew Plitt, who gets picked off by C.J. Avery. Vegas is absolutely DOMINATING this first half.
Seems like Plitt simply didn't see Avery in coverage, throwing it right to him. First turnover in the new #XFL goes to the Vipers!pic.twitter.com/NOYnJyV10b
With a hungry Houston defense on deck next week, Plitt has to make better decisions moving forward. On the bright side, the former XFL rushing leader in De’Veon Smith was quite solid.
Renegades Defense Stepping Up
Luckily for Arlington, Jay Hayes’ defense fired up in the second half. Had it not been for the impact plays made by this unit, odds are Vegas would have come away with the dub. T.J. Barnes, Colin Schooler, Donald Payne, and plenty of others put pressure on Luis Perez, forcing him into making some poor throws.
Meanwhile, the turnovers piled up. Tomasi Laulile – the big man – started the trend with a pick six. Jamal Carter forced a fumble, and recovered it, which led to another Arlington score.
BIG PLAY FOR THE RENEGADES. Luis Perez gets picked off by Tomasi Laulile, who takes it all the way to the house.
Then, De’Vante Bausby jumped a pass intended for Martavis Bryant, and took it to the house. Bausby stepping up is nothing new. He was unbelievable in the AAF in 2019 – spent a couple years in the NFL, and then was a star for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL during their 2022 season.
De'Vante Bausby with a crushing pick six on Luis Perez. Arlington now leads 22-14 with just a few minutes to go.
No surprise to see Bausby make a big play. This guy has been doing it at a high level for years in spring football, and now the #XFL. pic.twitter.com/Jo00rshVrQ
If Arlington’s defense continues to play at this level, they can shut down just about anybody. Funny enough, the Renegades scored only two touchdowns on Saturday – and both were provided by their defense.
Vegas Vipers: The Tale Of Two Halves
One could argue that Vegas played a more complete game than Arlington. And to be quite honest, they did in most aspects. In the first half, Rod Woodson’s offense was a well-oiled machine. Luis Perez was calm, poised, and playing excellent football.
What a sensational opening drive from Luis Perez for the @XFLVipers. Converted on multiple third downs, including this third and goal to Jeff Badet for the score.
However, things couldn’t have gone worse in the final two quarters. Turnovers proved to be a major issue for Vegas. Perez made some terrible decisions under pressure. For example, a ball he should have thrown away ended up in the hands of Bausby, who gave Arlington a large cushion in the fourth.
On the other hand, Perez had very little support from his running backs. Neither back did much of anything on the ground. Vegas needs to pick up the run game moving forward – they can’t expect Perez to do it all.
Jeff Badet Is A Star
LUIS PEREZ AND JEFF BADET ARE TEARING UP THE #XFL.
The duo connect for their second TD in the first half, this time for 39 yards. This Vipers offense looks excellent with Perez at the helm in the #XFL. pic.twitter.com/i2P4bCbLds
What may have gotten overlooked is Jeff Badet’s performance. While many expected Martavis Bryant to jump on the scene, it was Badet who took the spotlight for Vegas. He finished the day with two touchdowns, and over 80 yards receiving. He would’ve hit the 100 yard mark, had an OPI call not been made.
Vipers Defense: Ready To Strike
Regardless of the loss, the Vipers defense might be the best in the league. They didn’t allow a single offensive touchdown all day long. On top of that, they held Arlington to multiple field goals in the red zone.
VIC BEASLEY. The former NFL-Pro Linebacker putting his mark on this one, with a massive sack on Drew Plitt to end this drive.
Vic Beasley, the former NFL All-Pro, was a leader for Vegas. His most notable moment was a sack of Drew Plitt, finishing off an incredible goal line stand in the fourth quarter. The Vipers are clearly an extremely talented team. Execution is what held them back on Saturday.
H-Town, welcome back to the XFL. What a win it was for Wade Phillips’ group on Saturday night. The Roughnecks took control early, and didn’t relent against Orlando.
While there are some kinks to work through (i.e. Brandon Silvers’ inconsistencies), Houston looked like one of the most complete teams in week one. Their offense was strong from the get go, fueled by the playmakers they have across the board.
WOW. Houston catches Orlando off guard, taking advantage of the free play. Brandon Silvers with a perfect pass to Deontay Burnett, who mades a ridiculous catch – taking it all the way to the house.
Max Bhorgi is going to be a star in this league. His presence in the offense opened up a lot of options for Brandon Silvers in the passing game, which allowed Houston to put up so many points. Deontay Burnett and Jontre Kirklin also showcased their talents, fitting into the Roughnecks’ system perfectly.
Max Borghi just saved this Roughnecks drive. After a dropped touchdown pass, Borghi breaks loose for a 27 yard scamper to the house.
One thing to clean up: turnovers. Silvers was solid for most of the night – but threw two awful interceptions that almost allowed Orlando to get back in it.
Unreal Defensive Performance
The Roughnecks are stacked defensively. This unit didn’t relent for one moment last night, as Sean Davis and the secondary made it impossible for Paxton Lynch to get anything done.
Speaking of which, Lynch had a miserable night thanks to Houston’s defensive line dominating on every possession. Trent Harris racked up four sacks, putting his mark on Houston’s home opener. Similar to Arlington, Houston will look to ride their defense to more wins this season.
Orlando Is A Mess
There is a lot that could be said about the Orlando Guardians. This team is very sloppy, from top to bottom. As with most startup leagues, there’s usually a team or two that look completely inept. Unfortunately for Orlando, they’ve got that identity as of right now.
It wasn’t all bad, but about 95% of Saturday night was. Orlando’s first score probably shouldn’t have even been called the way it was, as Sean Davis seemed to have possession before Cody Latimer.
WILD. The first touchdown for the Orlando Guardians comes on a pass from Paxton Lynch to Cody Latimer. Sean Davis fought for the pick, but it was ultimately ruled a touchdown.
Paxton Lynch had no time to throw the football – and when he did have time, he didn’t do much with the opportunity. This Guardians offensive line has a lot of work to do…a lot.
Just when it looked like the team could get back in the game, Eli Rogers muffed a punt – and the rest was history. Terrell Buckley needs to figure out how to get this team into some sort of rhythm next week, otherwise this season could go down the tubes quickly.
Huge play for the Orlando Guardians. Andrew Jamiel, the FCF legend himself, makes a catch on a beautiful 51 yard pass from Quinten Dormandy – who replaced Paxton Lynch. Finally a bit of life for Orlando in the #XFL. pic.twitter.com/Zq4L1VX838
One bright spot: Andrew Jamiel. The former FCF star balled out in his XFL debut. He currently holds the longest touchdown of the XFL season, on a 51 yard dime from Quinten Dormady. Speaking of, Buckley has to find a stable QB as soon as possible…Lynch clearly isn’t the answer at the moment.
Anthony Becht might have had the craziest debut as a head coach. We’re still processing what happened in that XFL showdown in San Antonio. Somehow, some way, the Battlehawks scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to win the game.
The XFL is wild. San Antonio was up 15-3 with 1:30 left. They lost 18-15. How?
TD makes it 15-9
A 3-point (!) conversion (from the 10) makes it 15-12.
Convert a 4th & 15 instead of an onside kick to get the ball back
Now, St. Louis can’t get too high off of this win. For three and a half quarters, the Battlehawks played atrocious offensive football. They couldn’t move the chains at all, and only had two first downs until the final period.
Had it not been for their absurd resurrection in the final two minutes, San Antonio would’ve won by double digits. By all means – that comeback was incredible, and showcases how strong this team can be. That being said, St. Louis would do themselves a favor by avoiding deep holes like the one they were in on Sunday.
TRAVIS FEENEY. Massive play for the @XFLBattlehawks. Feeney strips Jack Coan of the ball, picks it up, and puts the Battlehawks in excellent position to score.
The good news: you can only go up from here. The Battlehawks boast a resilient defense, one that played quite well in week one.
Austin Proehl: XFL Legend
As if Austin Proehl had to do anything else to solidify his status as an XFL legend, he pulled through in a big way for St. Louis on Sunday. Proehl scored the first TD in the XFL 2.0, for the Seattle Dragons.
OH MY GOSH. AUSTIN PROEHL. XFL LEGEND. THE BATTLEHAWKS HAVE THE LEAD. THIS IS MADNESS.
Now, he’s making big-time plays for the Battlehawks – and, his dad. Ricky Proehl (former Super Bowl Champ) is the receivers coach in St. Louis this season, and the two shared an amazing moment together after the comeback was complete.
Proehl made every single massive catch St. Louis needed down the stretch. As he settles into Becht’s offense, expect more magic from Austin as the season continues.
Brahmas Epic Collapse
If we’re being completely honest here: the San Antonio Brahmas played a better overall game. In fact, they controlled almost the entirety of game time on Sunday – only to see it all fizzle away in the final seconds.
San Antonio fans shouldn’t be too worried – yet. The Brahmas are simply trying to figure things out under new head coach Hines Ward. They have one of the best backfields in the XFL, as Kalen Ballage and Jacques Patrick posted respectable performances on Sunday.
Jack Coan is a solid QB, with plenty of upside. San Antonio really struggled to protect him in the early goings. At the same time, multiple receivers dropped passes at important points throughout the game. As this team begins to discover their identity, mistakes like these have to be cleaned up if they want to reach their full potential.
Defensively, San Antonio looks great. Sure – they blew a 12 point lead in the final moments – but for the most part, this unit was excellent. Had their offense simply executed more often, St. Louis wouldn’t have been in the game to begin with. Moving forward, the Brahmas have to tighten up the loose areas on both sides of the football to win games.
How about those lemon…ahem, I mean, DC Defenders? That was a gutsy win by Reggie Barlow and his Defenders. This team is extremely resilient, especially from a defensive standpoint. They rallied to get the job done despite facing major pressure, ultimately coming away with a wild win at home to begin the season.
Hats off to Gregg Williams. His defense stepped up time and time again, generating three turnovers. It felt very similar to what happened in Arlington. Even when the offense couldn’t figure it out, the defense always had an answer.
Michael Joseph set to be one of the XFL’s best defenders (no pun intended). He had two interceptions in the second half, including a pick six that sent the entire fan section into a beer-chucking frenzy. You gotta love it. The Defenders boast one of the best defenses in the league, and this was evident on Sunday night.
Quarterback’s Must Improve
Not everything is sweet for DC, though. Quarterback play was somewhat iffy. Jordan Ta’amu never found a rhythm as a passer, and actually tossed a pick that could’ve lost DC the game in the fourth quarter.
D’Eriq King is electrifying as a dual threat QB, but we didn’t see him throw the rock much at all. It will be interesting to see if DC utilizes him more in the future as a passer, or if he will purely be used as a running quarterback.
Ben DiNucci: Good, Bad, & Ugly
Ben DiNucci is one of the highest profile QB’s in the XFL. He fit right into June Jones’ offensive scheme, slinging the ball early. For most of the night, DiNucci was quite solid. He put Seattle in positions to succeed, and found his receivers in stride often.
GUCCI DINUCCI WITH THE PATRICK MAHOMES IMPRESSION 🔥
Unfortunately, the second half wasn’t ideal. DiNucci turned the ball over three times – including a fumble at the goal line that lost the game. Ben has a lot of talent, without a doubt. At times, he looked like the best quarterback in the XFL. That being said, he has to make smarter decisions if Seattle wants to be successful long-term.
Talent Abounds In The Northwest
Seattle shouldn’t be too upset with this loss. Missed opportunities is what held them back from winning this game; not a lack of talent. I feel like a broken record here – but, Seattle simply needs to execute their game plan during crucial moments if they want to win.
We saw multiple offensive playmakers all over the field last night. Brenden Knox and Morgan Ellison make up a spectacular backfield for the Sea Dragons. Meanwhile, receivers such as Josh Gordon, Jahcour Pearson, Blake Jackson, and others were quite solid.
Jim Haslett also boasts a solid defense – one that gave Seattle a chance to win the game late. As the pieces continue to come together for this team, the Sea Dragons should be capable of making waves in the North Division.
There is so much to say about the XFL’s opening weekend. Too much to fit into one article, that’s for sure. We thoroughly enjoyed every game – and can’t wait to see what comes our way in week two.