XFL 2023: Week 1 Recap
February 21, 2023 / By Brayden Nazarian
Looking back and examining the first week of the 2023 XFL season.
Week 1 of the 2023 XFL season is in the books and it's time to analyze what took place last weekend.
Arlington Renegades defeat Vegas Vipers 22-20
The first game of the season didn't disappoint. Luis Perez, quarterback for the Vegas Vipers, connected with wide receiver Jeff Badet for two early touchdowns to put his team ahead. Vegas held a 14-3 lead into the third quarter, but the Arlington Renegades didn't back down. Their defense scored twice in the second half, helping them retake the lead with just a few minutes to go. Surprisingly, the Vipers drove back down the field to score a late touchdown, bringing the deficit down to two points. The Renegades ultimately sacked Perez on the two-point conversion, though, sealing the game.
The Renegades open the season at 1-0, while the Vipers drop to 0-1. Quite an exciting start to what was an exciting weekend of football.
QB Luis Perez (VEG) - 22/36, 249 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT
WR Jeff Badet (VEG) - 6 REC, 81 YDS, 2 TD
DL De'Vante Bausby (ARL) - 2 TKL, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 TD
Houston Roughnecks blow out Orlando Guardians 33-12
The late game on Saturday featured the first blowout of the regular season. After a close first half, the Houston Roughnecks started dismantling the Orlando Guardians in almost every facet of the game. On defense, they registered seven total sacks on Guardians quarterbacks--Paxton Lynch and Quentin Dormady--and on offense, they seemed to score at will. Roughnecks' QB Drew Silvers led the way with 265 passing yards and two touchdowns, with 90 yards and one TD going to wide receiver Deontay Burnett.
At first, the Guardians were in it. Paxton Lynch found WR Cody Latimer for a 'Fail Mary' first quarter touchdown which jumpstarted their offense. However, Lynch and Dormady ultimately threw the game away, combining for three interceptions. The Guardians are now 0-1, while the Roughnecks move to 1-0.
WR Deontay Burnett (HOU) - 8 REC, 90 YDS, 1 TD
LB Trent Harris (HOU) - 4 SACKS
WR Jontre Kirklin (HOU) - 5 REC, 71 YDS, 1 TD
St. Louis Battlehawks rally to beat San Antonio Brahmas 18-15
Despite a slow start for the St. Louis Battlehawks, this ended up being one of the more entertaining matchups of the weekend. For nearly 57 minutes of game time, the San Antio Brahmas dominated both sides of the ball. Quarterback Jack Coan had success in the passing game, completing nearly 70% of his passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. It might not be the sexiest stat line, but Coan did a great job of managing the game while running back Kalen Ballage continually pounded the rock. Up until the end, it felt like the Brahmas were in control.
With just over three minutes remaining, Battlehawks' QB A.J. McCarron led his offense down the field to score a late touchdown. Down 15-9, they opted for a three-point try from the 10-yard line--and converted--bringing the score to 15-12 with 1:25 left in the game. Then, the Battlehawks successfully converted on 4th-and-15 (instead of trying an onside kick) and drove down the field, again, to score the game-winning touchdown. Absolute madness.
Certainly a great finish to what was a rather boring game at first. The fact that the Battlehawks won using newly-implemented rules made it even better. They move up to 1-0, while the Brahmas start 0-1.
QB A.J. McCarron (STL) - 18/26, 190 YDS, 2 TD
RB Kalen Ballage (SAN) - 24 CAR, 84 YDS + 3 REC, 13 YDS
LB Travis Feeney (STL) - 2 TKL, 1 SACK, 1 FF, 1 FR
D.C. Defenders take down Seattle Sea Dragons 22-18
The final game of the weekend was another nail-biter. To start, it felt like the Seattle Sea Dragons were dictating the flow of the game on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Ben DiNucci finished with a league-high 282 passing yards, and he completed a Mahomes-esque shovel pass to Josh Gordon for the first touchdown of the game. On defense, the Sea Dragons held the Defenders to just 177 total yards and forced a pivotal fourth quarter interception. They also had 10 more minutes of time of possession than D.C. Put all that together and it should be easy to take home a win, right? *Buzzer sound* Wrong.
Thanks to cornerback Michael Joseph, the Defenders were able to stay in it. Joseph snagged two interceptions in the second half, returning one for a touchdown while the other helped set up an eventual Defenders' TD. Backup quarterback D'Eriq King also had a hand in the comeback, registering 21 total yards and the go-ahead rushing touchdown in the fourth. His involvement in the run game allowed the Defenders to open up their playbook and get in a rhythm. (It may be too early to tell, but there might be a QB battle in D.C.)
Closing out the first week, the Defenders join the Renegades, Roughnecks and Battlehawks at 1-0, while the Sea Dragons fall to 0-1.
CB Michael Joseph (D.C.) - 5 TKL, 2 INT, 1 TD
WR Josh Gordon (SEA) - 6 REC, 71 YDS, 1 TD
QB Ben DiNucci (SEA) - 35/54, 282 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT