WASHINGTON, D.C. – There is an impressive professional football team developing here in the nation’s capital—and it’s not the Washington Redskins.
Last week, Defenders’ coach Pep Hamilton said the team had actual fingerprints. It’s now clear those fingerprints identify a team with a stout defense that doesn’t just keep teams out of the end zone, but actually scores, too.
“I go against those guys every day in practice,” said Defenders’ quarterback Cardale Jones. “It feels good—our defense has scored each week we’ve played. I think they have six or seven turnovers in two games. You can’t ask for a better defense than that. You can’t ask for a better feeling to know whatever you may do on offense, your defense will have your back.”
Jones and the Defenders’ offense made plenty of plays of their own, opening the game with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a beautiful touchdown pass to DeAndre Thompkins. Cardale Jones would go on to throw for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He also converted a key 4th down on the Defenders’ opening drive with a 14-yard scramble that helped set up a touchdown.
One week after dominating the Tampa Bay Vipers, this game was a complete disaster for the New York Guardians. After the Defenders’ opening touchdown, Guardians’ running back Darius Victor had the ball stripped from him by Rahim Moore. That fumble recovery set up a 13-play drive that led to a field goal and a 9-0 lead.
On the Guardians’ ensuing possession, quarterback Matt McGloin lofted a deep pass into double coverage that was picked off by Defenders’ safety Matt Elam. From there both teams would trade punts until DC managed a field goal just before halftime to take a 12-0 lead.
In the third quarter, Matt McGloin threw a crucial pick-six to linebacker Jameer Thurman and the route was on 18-0. In the fourth quarter, Cardale Jones showed a little bit of Houdini magic as he converted a 3 and 10 to set up a field goal. He would finish the day with a touchdown pass to Derrick Hayward.
The team showed plenty of toughness on a day in which hearts were heavy. Eli Rogers, who’s mom was laid to rest yesterday, opted to play instead of attending the funeral in Miami. He said his mom would have wanted him to play. His impact on the field was apparent on the first drive, converting a third down that would set the tone for the afternoon. He would go on to haul in five receptions for 49 yards.
“One of the guys that always puts it on the line for his teammates is Eli Rogers,” said Pep Hamilton. “It was a tough week, for not just Eli, but for myself and the rest of our locker room and coaching staff. Just the thought of having to decide between playing a game and making the ultimate sacrifice in missing his mother’s funeral today.”
Next week, the DC Defenders hit the road to Los Angeles for a Feb. 23 bout with the Wildcats (0-1). The game can be seen on FS1.