Seattle Sea Dragons (4-2) at Orlando Guardians (0-6)
In Week 6, the Seattle Sea Dragons traveled to Orlando to face the Guardians in what was a tightly contested matchup.
Through the first two quarters, Ben DiNucci played his worst half of football all season. While he only threw one interception, he should’ve thrown at least 3 in the first quarter alone, but the Sea Dragons’ offense pulled things together enough in the second half to get the win.
Most of the credit for the win should go to Seattle’s defense and special teams. Despite struggling against Orlando’s air and ground attacks, the Sea Dragons’ defense made some big plays with the game on the line, totaling 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
The defense might’ve helped seal the victory with big plays, but special teams was the real difference in this matchup. Wide receiver Kelvin McKnight would set Seattle’s offense up in excellent field position on multiple kick and punt returns. A blocked punt by safety Alijah Holder also set the offense up for an easy score.
While it was stressful, Seattle held on to their winning streak for another week, moving to a 4-2 record after starting the season 0-2.
- WR – Blake Jackson
- WR – Juwan Green
- WR – Jahcour Pearson
Honorable Mention(s): N/A
- S – Antoine Brooks
- CB – Rojesterman Farris
- DB – Zafir Kelly
Honorable Mention(s): DT – Elijah Ponder
- WR – Kelvin McKnight
- K – Dominik Eberle
- S – Alijah Holder
|##||Seattle Sea Dragons||Comp/Att (%)||Yds||TD||Int||LG||Sack – Yds|
|6||Ben DiNucci||18/35 (51.4%)||177||2||1||24||1-3|
|##||Seattle Sea Dragons||Att||Yds||Avg||TD||LG|
|##||Seattle Sea Dragons||Rec||Yds||Avg||TD||LG||Tgts|
|##||Seattle Sea Dragons||Fum||Lost||Rec|
|##||Seattle Sea Dragons||Solo||Ast||Total||Sacks – Yds||TFL||INT||FF||FR|
Thoughts & Performance Grade
The Seattle Sea Dragons and Orlando Guardians kicked off Week 6 of the XFL with what many expected to be a pretty one-sided affair. However, Orlando stayed in the game until the very end but fell short on the game’s final drive. Seattle’s 4th straight victory moves them to a 4-2 record on the year and keeps them from falling behind in the North Division playoff race.
It was a slow first quarter for both teams, but it was likely the worst half of football we’ve seen from Sea Dragons’ quarterback Ben DiNucci all season. DiNucci only threw one interception throughout the game, but terrible decision-making and forcing the ball into double and triple coverage multiple times in the first half should have resulted in at least 2 or 3 more. It’s safe to say Seattle lucked out in regard to turnovers this week.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon was completely shut down by Orlando’s defense, getting targeted only twice all game and not recording a single reception. The XFL’s leading receiver, Jahcour Pearson, was also a bit quiet compared to usual. Luckily, wide receivers Blake Jackson and Juwan Green held things down in the air attack, each scoring a touchdown.
Seattle’s ground attack looked a lot different in the absence of running back Morgan Ellison. While Darius Bradwell did have a few nice runs in the second half, he was shut down for the majority of the game, only totaling 32 yards on 12 carries. Ben DiNucci was actually Seattle’s leading rusher on the day, taking 6 carries for 43 yards.
Defensively, Seattle had trouble slowing down Orlando’s quarterback Quinten Dormady, who completed 24/44 passes for 243 yards but was held without a passing touchdown. While they’d record 2 sacks on the day, Seattle’s pass rush was basically non-existent through the first half of the game. Things picked up in the second half when defensive coordinator Ron Zook started dialing up the blitzes, but Dormady still had plenty of time in the pocket for a large portion of the game.
Guardians’ running back, Devin Darrington, was also a problem for Seattle’s defense, taking 7 carries for 82 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Dormady also added to Orlando’s rushing totals, taking 5 carries for 43 yards on the day.
Big plays on defense, like a forced fumble by Antoine Brooks and recovery by Rojesterman Farris, did play a part in helping to seal the win. However, Seattle’s special teams unit, led by coordinator Ty Knott, was the real difference-maker against the Guardians. To start, wide receiver Kelvin McKnight returned multiple kick and punt returns for massive yardage, totaling 204 return yards on the day. Additionally, safety Alijah Holder blocked a punt, setting Seattle up on the Guardians’ 6-yard line, which they’d convert into an easy touchdown. That would be the Sea Dragon’s 3rd blocked punt over the last two weeks.
Between Ben DiNucci forcing the ball into double coverage and the lack of a real run game without Morgan Ellison, Seattle’s offense has taken a few steps backward this week. Josh Gordon was held without a catch and the league’s leading receiver, Jahcour Pearson, was held under 20 yards.
Defensively, the team made some big plays when the game was on the line, but got picked apart through the air and on the ground. The defense will have to play better if the Sea Dragons want to seriously contend for a championship.
Special teams really bailed Seattle out this week, not only with the big returns and blocked punt, but kicker Dominik Eberle made 4 of 4 field goal attempts, with the longest being from 54 yards out.
At this point, the majority of Seattle’s issues are caused by DiNucci’s poor decisions. If he doesn’t start taking care of the football better, he might just play his way out of an NFL opportunity. Forcing the ball downfield won’t be as forgiving when Seattle faces a great Arlington Renegades defense in Week 7.
Special Teams & Big Defensive Plays Carried Seattle; DiNucci Needs To Play Smarter Football.
Performance Grade: B-
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