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XFL Football: The Roughnecks Defense Steals the Show in Week 1

Roughnecks

Week 1 in the XFL is now in the books and there was plenty to see. We saw things like a kickoff style that puts an emphasis on safety. On the kickoff, the kicker must kick from the 30-yard line and the ball has to be in the air and land between the 20 and the endzone. The coverage team is not lined up beside the kicker like the NFL. No, they are lined up on the opponents 35 and cannot move until the ball is caught by the returner. They can also move three seconds after the ball hits the ground and they get a hand down signal from the ref. If the ball goes in and through the end zone they call that a Major touchback and the ball goes to the 35.

We have the three options for the point after touchdown where a team can line up at the two, five, or 10-yard lines for one, two, or three points. If the defense makes the big play and creates a turnover that results in a touchdown, they get the number of points the team was trying for on the PAT.

Of course, there are many more rules that we can discuss, but let’s just say they are interesting. Then there is the one thing people, especially those in the XFL, were wondering about. How were the TV ratings for the games? Well, that turned out pretty well for the league. The first game was the Seattle Dragons at the DC Defenders and it drew an average of 3.3 million viewers. It was as high as 6.4 million in the Seattle-Tacoma market and 4.0 in the DC market. Let’s see if this can hold up over the long haul.

The games were interesting enough to get these people at the start of the league, but will the game continue to see attendance hols, or even grow. That is the key to this league being able to sustain itself. We are always going to see an audience for the inaugural of any type of football league, but ask the AAF how that turned out for them in the short term. Of course, the difference here is that XFL Owner, Vince McMahon, has pledged $500 million of his own money to fund the league.

As for the game between the Houston Roughnecks and the LA Wildcats, it was pretty much fun to watch if you ask me. The Roughnecks scored four touchdowns in Week 1 and their defense was outstanding. They were able to get 16 QB hits compared to 27 combined for the rest of the league. I know it’s early, but this defense looked strong against the Wildcats and if they can continue this type of aggressive play, they may wind up as the best defense in the league.

It was a tight affair between the two teams and the Wildcats held a 17-12 advantage until things fell apart for them. With 1:10 to go in the half, Roughnecks QB, Phillip Walker connected with WR Sam Mobley out of the shotgun for 39 yards to put Houston up 18-17 going into the locker room.

The third quarter would see the Roughnecks strike again on another Walker touchdown pass of four yards to Kahlil Lewis to make it 24-17 and the two-point conversion from the five was good and it was 26-17. Houston would add a field goal and another touchdown pass for 25 unanswered points to settle things.

In the game, Walker had a breakout game throwing for 272 yards and four touchdowns. Houston finished with 315 total yards to LA’s 291. The Roughnecks were 2-4 on two-point conversions while the Wildcats were 1-2. Even though the Houston defense was stout, it was the Wildcats defense that recorded five sacks to one for Houston. The running games did not play much of a factor for either team, but they will both have to get better to establish more balance moving forward.

The crowd was very much in the game on a beautiful day in Houston. Head coach, June Jones pretty much summed it up when he said “We did what we needed to do. We played pretty fast, LA had more plays than we did but it was all positive in the second half. We could have certainly had more points by the end of the game.”

Welcome to the XFL.

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