WASHINGTON, D.C. – Remarkable plays were made all over the field in what turned out to be an impressive debut for the XFL 2020. Among the playmakers was Defenders’ quarterback Cardale Jones who tossed two touchdown passes, one of which came on a double reverse pass to Khari Lee. Jones’ ability to extend plays was on full display all afternoon and helped lift DC to a 31-19 victory over Seattle.
“It feels good to be out there for a full game and grind it out there with these guys,” said Jones. “We knew we had a tough, hard-nosed team.” The Defenders defense showed plenty of toughness as well, forcing three turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Bradley Sylve.
The Defenders opened the scoring 3-0, but the Dragons quickly answered with a Brandon Silvers touchdown pass to wide receiver Austin Proehl to take a 6-3 lead. With 6:56 left in the second quarter, Defenders’ cornerback Elijah Campbell blocked a punt, which was recovered by Jonathan Celestin for a touchdown and a 9-6 Defenders lead.
The game was a back and forth contest for three quarters—the teams were tied at 19 with 10:42 in the third—until Cardale Jones’ 31-yard touchdown strike to Rashad Ross put the Defenders up 25-19. On Seattle’s ensuing possession, quarterback Brandon Silvers tossed a crucial pick-six, giving the Defenders a double-digit lead.
The Dragons tried to answer late in the fourth quarter, driving to the Defenders’ 3-yard line. But a botched hand-off by Silvers was recovered by Defenders’ tackle Elijah Qualls and effectively ended the game.
Defenders’ coach Pep Hamilton was pleased to see his team get the victory and hopes to build on it. “It was a good team win,” said Hamilton. “Prior to the game, I talked about us having a desired identify and now I think we have actual fingerprints.”
Before Saturday’s game, many viewers didn’t know what to expect, while others predicted the XFL gameplay would be gimmicky or of low-quality. The on-field product actually turned out to be very entertaining, with special teams innovation and one, two and three point tries praised by fans and media alike. NBC Sunday Night Football’s Cris Collinsworth even offered the XFL some praise.
Next week, the DC Defenders (1-0) will host the New York Guardians (0-0). The Seattle Dragons (0-1) will head home to face the Tampa Bay Vipers (0-0).