Renegade's Air Raid grounded by Battlehawks in bruising St. Louis win
Philip Nelson drops back for one of his 41 passes on the night. The Renegades 'Air Raid' scheme remained grounded on the night and couldn't find its' groove, as St. Louis was able to capitalize on key possessions and take home the victory. (Photo Credit / Smiley N. Pool / Dallas Morning News)

Bob Stoops ran one of the most well-oiled machines at Oklahoma. Hal Mumme offers certification on how to run the Air-Raid offense. Jonathan Hayes would ride back with Stoops on road trips home from Iowa when the two coaches played for the Hawkeyes. Setting friendships aside, you'd expect that the hardest working person in Globe Life Park would be the scoreboard operator.

After a 6-6 1st Half, one would be right to think that the betting favorites to win the XFL might be biting off more than they can chew, especially compared to the high scoring Saturday matchups. The Air Raid didn't see hardly any deep shots, but Dallas QB Philip Nelson was able to put the Renegade offense into a bit of a groove, completing 79% of his throws and giving Dallas chances. 

But give credit to the St. Louis defense, who held Dallas to field goals and squandered any sort of groove that the Renegades were churning for the first three quarters. That effort helped give the Battlehawks a chance, scoring the games first touchdown late in the 2nd quarter and another one early in the 4th quarter to put St. Louis ahead 12-9. That 4th Quarter drive was sparked by a 37-yard scamper by QB Jordan Ta'amu. 

Backed up on their own 2-yard line, their fifth time starting inside their own 20, Chuck Long called two straight up-the-gut runs to put the Battlehawks in charge. Ta'amu found De'Mornay Pierson-El for a 41-yard strike, and St. Louis finally seemed in rhythm. On a 3rd and 9 at the Dallas 21, the Renegades dialed up a safety blitz and held St. Louis to a field goal to push their lead to 15-9 with 5:39 to go. 

Dallas was punished brutally on third down tonight, and on their last possession of the game, the Renegades failed to convert, ending the night 1/10 on third down. 

Jordan Ta'amu proved his worth tonight, working as the catalyst for the Battlehawk offense that sputtered early but revved late, getting enough going to put the team at 1-0 in the XFL's inaugural football weekend. What Ta'amu couldn't finish with his arm, he could with his feet, rattling off some timely runs and was aided by the St. Louis running game, which accounted for 198 yards on the ground. 

Inconsistency ultimately hampered the Renegades XFL debut, and they'll need to clean up their timing on offense, especially on deep plays, to find success. 

QUICK TAKES

If you pounded the Under, you're a happy man. The XFL has leaned into the idea of gambling being an integral part of their broadcast, putting the O/U and pre-game odds on the tickers. The Renegades were -9.5 favorites, and a 52.5 O/U in hindsight appeared rather optimistic, and those borderline lunatics who take unders are celebrating in the streets after this one. To be fair, they deserve it too. 

Dallas - your fortunes are soon to turn. Philip Nelson was under center tonight for Dallas, only because a late leg injury hampered predicted Renegade starter Landry Jones from seeing any action. The former Steeler gunslinger is a major reason that the Renegades are the betting favorites to win the XFL this season. 

Dallas (0-1) heads to Los Angeles to take on the Wildcats next week, and St. Louis (1-0) is bound for Houston to battle the Roughnecks. 

Check back on Vavel.com for more XFL Updates. 

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