Defenders start 2-0 after win over Vipers

February 27, 2023 / By Brayden Nazarian

Breaking down the Defenders' Week 2 win over the Vegas Vipers.

On Saturday, the D.C. Defenders came out on top for the second week in a row, defeating the Vegas Vipers 18-6.

With heavy rain falling for nearly the entire game, the Defenders relied on their rushing attack to get the job done. They finished with 229 rushing yards as a team--the most for any XFL team since the Tampa Bay Vipers rushed for 266 in Week 4 of 2020. D.C. also held the ball for almost 48 minutes of game time, which doubled their time of possession from Week 1.

The Defenders couldn't seem to get anything going early on; three of their first seven drives resulted in turnovers, while the other four ended with punts. Things changed, though, when offensive coordinator Fred Kaiss benched quarterback Jordan Ta'amu for backup D'Eriq King late in the third quarter. With King threatening to run on every play, the Vipers' defense had to adjust, leaving wide open rushing lanes for running backs Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead. Both RBs combined for 26 carries, 129 rushing yards and a touchdown, most of which came in the second half. King, while only carrying the ball four times, averaged eight yards per touch and scored his second rushing touchdown of the season.

Despite giving up the first score of the game, the Defenders' defense remained stout for another week. They shut the Vipers out for nearly 58 minutes of game time and allowed just 189 total yards of offense. They also registered three sacks and five tackles for loss in the victory.

The Defenders continue to find ways to win, moving up to 2-0 on the season, while the Vipers drop to 0-2.

Featured image courtesy of the D.C. Defenders