It’s been a rough go for Vegas, as they have struggled to find any sort of chemistry under Rod Woodson’s leadership. The team did just see a big shakeup, trading Luis Perez to the Arlington Renegades this week. Because of this, Jalan McClendon will get the start over Brett Hundley, surprisingly enough.
At the same time, San Antonio has seen some interesting changes as well. Kurt Benkert was brought into the fold, and played limited minutes last week despite being with the team just three days. The Brahmas are 2-4, fighting for their playoff lives – yet Hines Ward can’t seem to find stability at the QB position.
Let’s take a look at what happened…
Kurt Benkert got the start, and played excellent football for San Antonio. On third and 14, he completed a pass to Landon Akers, who got the first down. A PI call set them up inside the Vipers’ five yard line, which led to a touchdown pass from Benkert to Fred Brown.
Kurt Benkert finds Fred Brown for his first @XFL2023 touchdown pass!
On his first drive of the XFL season, Jalan McClendon played fantastic football. He made several impressive plays to keep the drive alive, moving the chains. Then, he tossed it to Sean Price, who broke tackles and rumbled into the endzone. After a successful two point conversion, Vegas led 8-6.
It all went downhill for San Antonio on their next drive. Kurt Benkert got injured, and had to exit the game after taking a shot in the backfield. Jawon Pass came into the game, but the Brahmas quickly stalled out, having to punt.
With one quarter down, the Vegas Vipers led 8-6 over the San Antonio Brahmas.
RB John Lovett was playing quite well for Vegas to start this game. He ran all over San Antonio’s defense, making life easier on McClendon. After getting into the red zone, a false start set the team back, and they settled for a 37 yard Bailey Giffen field goal.
Fred Brown had himself a game today for the Brahmas. On the succeeding kickoff, Brown took it to the house, for the first kickoff TD this season. Just like that, San Antonio went back in front 12-11.
Jalan McClendon came right back at San Antonio’s defense, pushing the ball down the field with ease. He was throwing darts out there, finding his receivers in stride time and time again. In the red zone, McClendon dumped it off to Rod Smith, who made a ridiculous hurdle over a defender for the score.
The two point attempt was successful, and Vegas led 19-12. Kurt Benkert came back into the game for San Antonio, but the drive stalled out, and they had to punt. The Vipers offense finally slowed down, though, hampered by an unnecessary roughness penalty and sent it right back.
Wards’ Brahmas were marching down the field, and in position to score before halftime. However, a deep ball from Benkert was picked off by Deontay Anderson, and Vegas took over.
Both teams weren’t able to get much going in the final couple minutes, trading punts. Heading into halftime, Vegas led 19-12.
Jalan McClendon continued to play outstanding football. He was on the money with almost every throw, putting Vegas in a position to score again. On 4th and goal, John Lovett ran it in from a yard out, and the Vipers took a 26-12 lead.
San Antonio’s chances at a comeback began to fade away. After a solid march down the field, the team could not convert on 4th and 4, and they turned it over on downs.
Now, while they did force Vegas into a punt, they managed to give the ball right back, as Terrell Bonds fumbled. The punter, Michael Carrizosa, recovered, and the Vipers had possession heading into the final fifteen minutes.
Linebacker Drew Beesley stepped up for San Antonio, making big plays. He sacked McClendon twice, which resulted in a punt from the Vegas Vipers.
However, the Brahmas were dead in the water. Their offense was stagnant this second half, unable to move the football much at all. John Lovett, Rod Smith, and Jalan McClendon continued to churn away, wearing down San Antonio’s defense.
Hines Ward finally caught a break, though. A 34 yard chip shot from Bailey Giffen was wide right, giving San Antonio another opportunity with the football.
Benkert could not get the team in a rhythm. Vegas put the pressure on Kurt, forcing him into an uncomfortable situation. A big sack by Maurice Smith put the Brahmas in what seemed like a deep hole.
As the quarter wound down, McClendon did enough to keep the team in front, maintaining a solid lead. San Antonio had one last opportunity with the football, but couldn’t do much with it.
The Vegas Vipers held on to win, defeating the San Antonio Brahmas 26-12 in Vegas.
This was one heck of a win for the Vegas Vipers. Jalan McClendon has to be given some genuine praise. This guy came out for just his second start in eight years, and looked phenomenal. He set the tone for Rod Woodson’s Vipers, making big-time plays throughout the game.
You have to give Jalan McClendon a ton of credit for his outstanding @XFL2023 performance today. This is just @JMac2__'s second start in EIGHT years:
Meanwhile, the entire organization was locked in today. Rod Smith, John Lovett, and plenty of others made an impact. It was a seamless performance across the board, one that the Vipers probably wish they had earlier in the season.
San Antonio is digging themselves a hole. Now at 2-5, they risk missing the XFL postseason altogether. Kurt Benkert didn’t do a whole lot today, which was disappointing for the Brahmas as they needed a big game from him. That being said, with only a week and a half under his belt in the XFL, there’s only so much we could have expected. At the same time, a typically strong defense looked quite lackluster today, as Vegas ran all over San Antonio from start to finish.
What are your thoughts on this game between the Vegas Vipers and San Antonio Brahmas? Which XFL players impressed you the most? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!