In the biggest games of the season, multiple players shined in the playoffs to help their teams reach the XFL Championship Game.
Fans now know who will be playing in the championship game thanks to the Arlington Renegades and the DC Defenders winning their division playoff games. Offensive was the name of the game for the winning teams as they had players who shined on the biggest stage. The defense saw guys running around and making tackles to prevent many rushing yards in the game. There will be plenty of new names on the list that will surprise some people, but sometimes players play their best in the playoffs.
XFL Players of the Week
Offensive Player of the Week: JaVonta Payton, WR, Arlington Renegades (five catches, 121 yards, two touchdowns)
It would be easy to give it to Luis Perez who was incredible in Arlington’s 26-11 win over Houston as he was able to protect the football while throwing perfect deep passes. The rebuttal to him being offensive player of the week is he has been consistent at the position, and he needed help to get that kind of success. There was one receiver who was able to help him get to that point.
JaVonta Payton had by far his best game of the season and became the first receiver on the Renegades this season to record over 100 yards receiving. Payton finished the game with five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the win. He had a big 59-yard score in the first half that gave the Renegades a two-possession lead. His big plays throughout were the reason he was brought to Arlington.
Luis Perez, QB, Arlington Renegades (19-27, 289 pass yards, three touchdowns, two carries, 13 rush yards)
De’Veon Smith, RB, Arlington Renegades (24 carries, 94 yards)
Ben DiNucci, QB, Seattle Sea Dragons (31-48, 295 pass yards, three touchdowns, three carries, 16 rush yards)
Defensive Player of the Week: Donald Payne, LB, Arlington Renegades (ten tackles)
The surprise of the playoffs came Friday night when the Renegades made a post on Twitter announcing that Donald Payne was being moved from the inactive list to the active list. Coach Bob Stoops announced three weeks ago that Payne had suffered an ankle injury that would keep him out for the season. Not only was he active, but he started in the game.
Payne played extremely well, being his first game back in three weeks as he led the Renegades with ten tackles. Whether he dropped back into coverage or was stopping the run, Payne was able to find the ball carrier and tackle him. He was not missing any tackles as the ankle looked good. It’s safe to say Payne’s presence helped and should play a big role in their title game appearance.
Emmanuel Ellerbee, LB, Houston Roughnecks (ten tackles, two tackles for loss)
John Daka, LB, Houston Roughnecks (three tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss)
Antoine Brooks, DB, Seattle Sea Dragons (seven tackles, one interception)
Special Teams Player of the Week: Pooka Williams, Returner, DC Defenders (four kickoff returns, 123 yards, 30.8 average, 51 long, 21-yard punt return)
Since Pooka Williams has returned from injury, there might not be a better special teams returner in the league than him. Williams has shown his explosiveness with the ball in his hands throughout the last few weeks. That was on full display Sunday as DC punched their ticket to the title game.
Williams had two big returns in the game with a 51-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that placed the Defenders at the Seattle 40-yard line. Unfortunately, Jordan Ta’amu threw an interception on the next play. Williams had another nice return in the fourth quarter as he took a punt return 21 yards. While scores didn’t come with the returns he had, Williams did everything he could to set DC up for success. He will be a key piece to the Defenders when they face Arlington for the championship.
Cameron Nizialek, P, Seattle Sea Dragons (five punts, 238 yards, 47.6 average)
Taylor Russolino (2-2 field goals, 31 long)
Race Porter, P, Houston Roughnecks (five punts, 204 yards, 40.8 average)
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