Roughnecks squeak by Battlehawks
PJ Walker and the Houston Roughneck offense found life when it needed to Sunday Night, and their defense found answers on underthrown Jordan Ta'Amu passes to win their second game of the season. (Photo Credit: Michael Starghill /  XFL via Getty Images)

If you're a defensive lineman with any new post moves you've been trying to break out, it might be worth it to try it on PJ Walker, because the XFL has not figured out a consistent way to bring down the spirited freelancer yet. 

Finding openings in the pocket to extend the play almost with fail, Walker led the Houston Roughnecks to a victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks 28-24.

The magic started early for Walker and the Roughnecks. They got on the board early in the first quarter and nearly had more after a bomb down the left sideline was called back for illegal touching. St. Louis responded immediately though, marching on a touchdown drive that had Jordan Ta'Amu looking every bit as potent as the rival Roughneck offense.

Yet a magician always has his tricks, and today wasn't any different. Walker danced are the pocket deep in the Battlehawk red zone, weaved his back towards the center of the field, a fired a sidearmed bullet to his waiting man in the back of the endzone. That score put the Roughnecks up 9-6, with momentum mounting on their side.

That momentum was enough to spark the defense. Ta'Amu dropped back for a deep route over midfield, but the underthrown flight of the ball found a Roughneck defender who nearly took the interception back to the house. Houston pounded it in to pump the score to 15-6. 

Moments after announcers sang his praises about being the possible MVP through two weeks of the season, Walker rolled right and floated a ball to the back corner to his favorite target, Cam Phillips, to bloat the score to 21-6.

St. Louis quickly found life in the second half. Ta'Amu found De'Mornay Pierson-El down the middle for a key third-down conversion, and Pierson-El was able to cut his way down the sideline to the one-yard line. Two plays later, Ta'Amu finished what Pierson-El should have done of their huge pitch and catch earlier, finding him in the endzone to breathe life into the Battlehawk sideline. Later in the third, Ta'Amu still was rolling, finding second-read receivers in the backfield and picking up timely first down after first down.

When St. Lous ran the read-option, Ta'Amu proved every bit his worth on that drive, finding the endzone for the first time on the ground to put St.Louis within reasonable striking distance. 

With the clock winding down in the third, Walker couldn't find any light in the pocket, tried to escape, but appeared to be brought down by the Battlehawks. Yet there was no whistle signaling the play dead, and Walker scampered right and fired a pass down the field to convert what could have been a disastrous 3rd &3. After a consultation with the referees, they determined he was indeed down, and St. Louis had turned their fortunes tremendously.

Nearly dropped in his own endzone, Ta'Amu found Pierson-El streaking over the middle for a first down, and hit receivers in stride to put the Battlehawks in position to take the lead. But just like last time, Ta'Amu's pass was undercut by a Roughneck receiver and returned within the Battlehawks' own 10-yard line. PJ Walker found Cam Phillips again in the endzone to push their lead to 10.

There is no quit in this Battlehawk squad, however, as they marched through fourth downs and contested coverage to convert a 36-yard touchdown catch and get their side within four. The defense just couldn't hold up, and the Roughnecks ran out the clock to get their second win on the season. 

Walker threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns on the night, finding Cam Phillips on all three of them. Ta'Amu finished with 270 yards on 30-37 passing and three touchdowns, but his two turnovers led to Roughneck scores and ultimately cost the team the game. 

Quick Takes

PJ Walker is the MVP. With a lot of respect to Cardale Jones, Walker has been the most electrifying player through two weeks of the XFL Season. There isn't a player that fans around the league would rather watch than Walker right now. His yardage numbers aren't gaudy, but his production line is palpable, making the Roughnecks one of the toughest matchups in the XFL.

St. Louis probably should have won this game. Save for a couple of timely turnovers and bad passes by Ta'Amu, the Battlehawks put themselves in position to win this game, and should have. Their offense clicked, they made timely plays, and on scoring drives, they clicked like clockwork. Credit to the Roughnecks for converting on great field positioning, but the St. Louis squad we saw in the third quarter can be a challenge come championship season. 

How good is Houston on the road? Houston has had the benefit playing in front of their home crowds for the first two matchups of the XFL season, and have yet to go on the road. We've yet to see what Houston looks like when they have to travel at all, as training camps were held in Houston in early January as well. 

St. Louis is a tough matchup Jordan Ta'Amu is providing as much of a jolt for the Battlehawk offense as any other quarterback in the league and is finding his spots with relative ease. The Battlehawk defense holds up just enough to give them a chance, and they've played two of the tougher teams in the league already this year. St. Louis is an unwanted matchup down the line. 

Houston (2-0) travels to Tampa Bay (0-2) and looks to push their record to 3-0. St. Louis (1-1) plays at home for the first time this season, hosting the New York Guardians (1-1) who were just shut out in Washington D.C. this weekend. 

Check back on VAVEL.com for more XFL Coverage. 

VAVEL Logo