Seattle Dragons 19-31 DC Defenders: New XFL season starts in style as Defenders secure home victory
Cardale Jones, quarterback of the DC Defenders (Photo: Scott Taetsch)

The DC Defenders beat the Seattle Dragons 31-19 to start the new XFL, which provided the Audi Field crowd with plenty of excitement. 

The debut of the new XFL season certainly didn’t disappoint as there was a punt blocked for a touchdown, big plays and a player swearing during an in-game interview. 

Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones completed 16 of his 26 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns. 

His counterpart, Dragons QB Brandon Silvers, went 21-for-40 for 213 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

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Austin Proehl scores first touchdown of the new XFL

In the league opener, there was plenty of buzz around the game between the Defenders and Dragons as 17,163 spectators almost filled Audi Field, home of MLS side DC United

Seattle started with a three-and-out, while DC drove down 63 yards in almost six minutes, but were held to a field goal as Ty Rausa was good from 34 yards. 

The Dragons put together a long drive of their own. Silvers led the offense down the field, going 54 yards in the final three plays as the drive was rounded off with a 14-yard touchdown from Austin Proehl

Unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, the offense, after scoring a touchdown, decides whether to go for one, two or three points – from the two-yard, five-yard and 10-yard line respectively. 

After a successful field goal on the previous drive, Rause missed a 35-yard attempt to tie the game at the start of the second quarter. 

Rahim Moore intercepted Silvers pass to Proehl and forced the first turnover. DC failed to capitalise on their defense making a big play as they went three-and-out on the next drive.

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Dragons score touchdown late in first half to take lead

Seattle were also held to a three-and-out, but Brock Millers punt was blocked by Elijah Campbell and recovered by Jonathan Celestin for a touchdown. 

The Defenders went for a two-point attempt from the five-yard line, but were unsuccessful. Both teams punted on their next possession of the ball before the Dragons drove down the field towards the end of the half. 

On a 4th & 8 play, inside the final two minutes of the half, Silvers completed a 10-yard pass to Kenneth Farrow, who then picked up 19 yards on the ground on the next play. 

The following play, Silvers threw to Trey Williams, who made a sharp cut back, making a player miss a tackle, and got to the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Keenan Reynolds’ reception on the one-point attempt made it a four-point game. 

Ernesto Lacayo’s kick-off failed to reach the DC 20-yard line, so the ball was automatically placed on the 45-yard line – another rule in the XFL that many fans will become accustomed to as the season goes on.

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Both teams start second-half with touchdown drives

The second-half started in explosive fashion. Jones’ deep pass to Eli Rogers, for a gain of 27 yards, set up the Defenders in their opponent's half. 

A trick play followed from DC, a double reverse pass back to Jones, who threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Khari Lee. Donnell Pumphrey rushed in for one-point to make it 19-13. 

Seattle responded with a three-play, 67-yard drive, which included a 57-yard catch and run from Proehl for a touchdown – his second of the game. 

DC and Seattle both punted on their next drives, but the Defenders bounced back by going back ahead. It was a drive that was started with a 20-yard reception from Rogers, which put the offense on the opposition half. 

On a 4th & 6 play, Jones threw deep to former Washington Redskins receiver Rashad Ross for a 31-yard touchdown. DC found themselves in the end zone again, but it was their defense that scored this time. 

Silvers pass, intended for Proehl, was picked off by Bradley Dylve and returned 69-yards for a touchdown. The one-point attempt was unsuccessful thereafter, which made it a 12-point game. 

Seattle drove down the field and looked poised to reduce the deficit, but quarterback Silvers fumbled the ball on a 2nd & goal play and Elijah Qualls pounced on the ball for another turnover from the DC defense. 

In Week 2, the Defenders will host the New York Guardians at Audi Field, while the Dragons play their first home game at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, against the Tampa Bay Vipers