The D.C. Defenders earned the first victory in the history of the XFL 2.0 on Saturday, defeating the Seattle Dragons 31-19.
Attendance for the game was announced as 17,163. Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones led the Defenders, finishing 16-for-26 for 283 yards, and two touchdowns. Jones added 28 yards on the ground.
First Half Game Flow
The game was nip and tuck from the outset. The Defenders scored first on a 34-yard field goal by Ty Rausa. Seattle answered with a touchdown strike from Brandon Silvers to Austin Proehl. The point after failed, however, leaving the score, 6-3. D.C. answered with another field goal, tying the game at six apiece. On the ensuing Seattle possession, D.C. blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown. Once again, the point after failed. Seattle finished the first half with another score, this time converting a one-point try to take a 13-9 lead. A major penalty on the kickoff gave the Defenders the ball on the Seattle 45 yard line. The major penalty allowed the Defenders to hit a 55-yard field goal to end the half.
Second Half Highlights
D.C. took the opening kickoff and turned it into a touchdown drive. Cardale Jones hit his tight end on a trick plays to Khari Lee for a 36-yard touchdown strike. Donnell Pumphrey added a one-point conversion to give D.C. a 19-13 lead. Seattle answered with a scoring drive of its own, as Brandon Silvers found Austin Proehl again for 57 yards and a touchdown. It would be the last the Dragons scored.
Key Plays of the Game
After the Defenders took a 25-19 lead, Seattle began to drive. On fourth-and-seven, Brandon Silvers was picked off by Bradley Sylve. Sylve turned the interception into a pick-six, as he rumbled 69 yards for a score. The Dragons drove again, this time to the three-yard line before D.C.’s Elijah Qualls recovered a Ja’Quan Garnder fumble. Qualls’ recovery sealed the game for the Defenders.
Both team defenses looked strong on Saturday, as the Dragons held the Defenders to a field goal try on multiple trips down the field. The Dragons successfully pressured Jones on many of his throws as well. The Dragons recorded one sack. Defense won the game for D.C., as the Defenders forced three Seattle turnovers and blocked a punt. The blocked punt and one of the interceptions turned into 12 points for D.C., which was the deciding margin. The defense seems to be ahead of the offense at this early point of the season.
For Seattle, Austin Proehl, son of former NFL-star Ricky Proehl, finished the game with five catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Silvers was 21-for-40 for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Silvers also threw two interceptions. D.C.’s top performers: Cardale Jones, 16-for-26, 283 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Eli Rogers added six receptions for 73 yards. Wide Receiver Rashad Ross had a pair of catches as well, for 52 yards and a score.
Seattle (0-1) hosts the Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1) on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. ET.
DC (1-0) hosts the New York Guardians (1-0) on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m. ET.