Week 3 saw a continuation of home cooking by most of the teams, save for the Sea Dragons much-needed win over an equally desperate Vipers team. The North and South divisions both are led by undefeated squads who have played a combined five of their first six games at home (Defenders, Roughnecks).
The Battlehawks played their third straight road game to open the season before returning to St. Louis for a heavily anticipated homecoming in week 4. Every game was within one score by the final whistle. Above all, the offenses are starting to click for multiple teams as outfits including the Sea Dragons, Vipers and Defenders accomplished balanced attacks. Once again, some lessons and takeaways from another week of XFL action:
Receivers Run Rampant
If it was not evident in the first 2 weeks of play, the wide receivers in this iteration of the XFL have been outstanding. Week 3 had the best performances of the season thus far. Josh Gordon went for six catches, 118 yards and two touchdowns with one clinching a dramatic win for the Sea Dragons.
Vipers’ speedster Jeff Badet came down with four catches for 93 yards and score. Darrius Shepard notched 241 all-purpose yards. Jontre Kirklin danced his way to six catches, 77 yards and two touchdowns. Hakeem Butler once again shined as he accumulated nine catches for 105 yards and a score. Passing offenses soared this weekend as quarterbacks started forging connections with their skill players.
That being said, there were arguably a number of plays still left on the table for the offenses because of penalties, turnovers or missed throws. Regardless, a number of spectacular outings highlights the next level potential of the league’s wideouts.
Controversial Calls Stir Up Battlehawks
In another down-to-the-wire contest for the St. Louis squad that has captured two dramatic comeback victories, fortune was not on the Battlehawks’ side. Ka Kaw was decidedly not the law as St. Louis was handicapped by an early challenge used on a fairly obvious fumble by the Defenders not was not reviewed by the replay booth.
With no challenge available, head coach Anthony Becht was not able to contest a questionable holding call on a long punt return by receiver Darrius Shepard later on. In the 2nd half, Defenders quarterback Jordan Ta’amu appeared to throw the ball into the dirt with no eligible receivers in the area on third down. Instead of ruling it as an intentional grounding, the Defenders faced a 4th-and-1 in Battlehawks’ territory which they were able to convert. The drive resulted in field goal to take a 17-14 lead.
Emotions spilled over at the end of the match as Battlehawks and Defenders skirmished with the Defenders’ victory in hand. St. Louis was clearly miffed by the lack of calls in their favor as they fell for the first time this season 34-28. Afterward, Battlehawks’ QB AJ McCarron lamented at the inconsistent calls and implored the league to improve its legislation of the game.
Arlington Has No Answers on Offense
A home game versus the inept Orlando Guardians seemed like a layup the Renegades. A switch at the QB position with former USFL standout Kyle Sloter did little to improve offensive fortunes, and in some respects made the results worse. A measly ten-point output barely scrapped out a narrow win over the Guardians in a sluggish defensive bout. Inconsistencies on the offensive line continue to plague any production under center.
An inability to run the ball with any threat makes it almost impossible to create confusion on the opponent’s side. Arlington had to pull out a fourth quarter comeback to avoid a potentially embarrassing loss to an anemic Orlando team. Despite their 2-1 record, an offensive revival will be necessary in determining whether the Renegades ultimately make the playoffs.
Roughnecks Are a Complete Squad
In week 2 the Houston Roughnecks walked away with a 23-14 victory over the Arlington Renegades. In week they had 22 points by halftime and cruised to a 22-13 win over the San Antonio Brahmas. Once again a potent offense overwhelmed their opponent as Brandon Silvers tossed three touchdowns by the midway point of the second quarter.
While the offense stalled in the second half, a tenacious defense led by architect Wade Philips held the Brahmas passing attack to under 100 yards. A ridiculous interception by Ajene Harris was just one of the many plays made by Houston. While they have yet to have a complete performance from start to end, The Roughnecks are the league’s most complete team.
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