Football in February? Dragon’s Breathe Fire on the Vipers in Front of 29,172 Seattle Fans

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Saturday afternoon, February 15th (2020), over 29,000 people came to CenturyLink field in Seattle.  Why do you ask?  The Seattle Seahawks certainly weren’t playing, neither were the Seattle Sounders.  They all came to see their own Seattle Dragons play some XFL football.  Yes, football has invaded Seattle once again during the perfect time of the year when nothing is going on.  Seattle loves their football and they proved it on Saturday when over 29,000 showed up to root on their Dragons against the Tampa Bay Vipers.  Both teams were 0-1, after opening week losses in the inaugural XFL season part deux.

The XFL is a professional American football league owned by Vince McMahon of the World Wrestling Entertainment.  It is the successor to the original XFL that went defunct after their only season in 2001.  This was the second go for this league, most believe that it will be a success this time around.  On Saturday afternoon at the Clink, Seattle fans proved that there could be success this time.  From beginning to the end, the crowd noise was insane, but would it be enough that lead their beloved Dragons to victory?  We were about to find out as kickoff quickly approached.

Seattle kicked off to start the football game as both teams lined up the field.  In the XFL, there were some rules that were different than the NFL.  We were about to see the first of many.  The following is an explanation of the kickoff rule (we will try and include one new rule weekly in our articles.)

  • The kicker kicks from the 30-yard line and must kick the ball in the air and in play between the opponent’s 20-yard line and the end zone.
  • The coverage team lines up on the return side 35-yard line and the return team lines up on the 30-yard line. Each team must have exactly 3 players outside the hash marks on both sides of the ball and cannot move until the ball is caught by the returner.
  • Out of bounds kicks and kicks that fall short of the 20-yard line will result in an illegal procedure penalty, taking the ball all the way out to the kicking team’s 45-yard line.
  • Players can move when the ball is touched by the returner or 3 seconds after the ball touches the ground (when the official waves his hand down).
  • If the ball is kicked into the end zone and is downed it is a “Major” touchback and the ball is placed at the return side 35-yard line.
  • If the ball bounces in bounds and then out of the end zone or is downed in the end zone, the ball is placed at the return side 15-yard line.
  • If a player on the return team touches the ball and it goes out of bounds, the ball is spotted where it went out of bounds.
  • If a team wishes to run an onside kick, it must indicate this to the official before the play and the two teams will be permitted to line up using traditional NFL rules (i.e. 10 yards apart from the kicking team). There will be no surprise onside kicks.

Both teams played a defensive battle for the first half of the football game.  Seattle’s QB Brandon Silvers was once again ineffective as he was unable to move the offense up and down the football field.  Fortunately, the defense showed up to play as they limited Tampa to a late 2nd quarter field goal.  Both teams went to the half flustered with their offense but had nothing to complain about on defense.  The only question was if Dragon’s Coach Jim Zorn (no need for introduction) would continue to stick with his QB Silvers to open the 2nd half.  The Vipers at least went to a 2-QB system for the first half (their main QB was hurt the week before) and they at least put points on the board.

Seattle received the 2nd half kickoff and returned it 63 yards to start the second half.  The Dragons were in business as Silvers and his troops came out on offense.  Would this be the inspiration that the offense needed?  After four positive offensive plays then an incomplete pass, Silvers looked flustered.  On the next play from scrimmage he threw an errant pass and the Vipers intercepted it and returned it 78-yards for the pick six.  They went for the one-point conversion and failed but the score was 9-0.  They liked their chances because Seattle’s QB looked lost and had failed to move his squad all afternoon.  All they had to do was stop them for the next quarter and a half and the football game was theirs.

Suddenly, the Clink was on their feet as the roar of the crowd could be heard all the way to the Seattle Waterfront.  On the 2nd play from scrimmage, Silvers went back to pass and sent a beauty to WR Keenan Reynolds for 68 yards for the touchdown.  Seattle was back in the football game just like that.  The Dragons went for the 2-point conversation and failed but they were now only behind 9-6 with plenty of time in the football game.

Both teams’ offenses decided to go dormant again as the defensive battle returned to the football game.  After an exchange of punts, the Vipers were looking at a 3rd and long at their eleven-yard line.  With the rush on, Marcel Frazier intercepted their QB and stumbled into the end-zone for the pick six touchdown.  The Dragons converted the 2-point conversion and it was now a 14-9 football game with the home team in the lead. With the atmosphere in the Clink, one would have thought that the Seahawks were playing. The place was going nuts.

Both football teams would go relatively silent the rest of the football game.  Seattle would secure a field goal late in the 4th quarter to go up 17-9.  The Vipers from Tampa would make a valiant effort to drive the field the last minute of the game (using the clock quite well) but would throw a last second interception as Seattle secured the football game and their first win of the XFL season to see their record go to 1-1.

Dragon Takeaways from their first ever XFL football game:

  • After a decent effort in week one, their defense against the Vipers was phenomenal. They came away with 4 quarterback sacks and 3 interceptions, including one for a touchdown.  They also had 6 pass breakups and 3 QB hits.  One couldn’t have asked for a better opening home performance in front of 29,000 plus fans at the Clink.
  • Defensive was the star of the game. There were many outstanding performances.  Those who stood out were DE Marcel Frazier with the pick six for the touchdown, CB Jermaine Clark with an interception, two passes defensed and a huge tackle that stopped the Vipers in the first half which lead only to a field goal.  CB Steven Williams had a big game too with 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for losses.  We cannot leave out LB Steven Johnson who had 10 tackles for the 2nd straight game.
  • The Dragons offense is terrible after two games. QB Brandon Silvers isn’t producing at a position that he excelled at in college.  Seattle took a huge chance on this kid, but Zorn must move on in his faith with Brandon if he doesn’t produce.  The running game for the Dragons had another decent outing. The 3-headed trio of Williams, Farrow and Gardner combined for 31 carries for 110 yards, not a bad outing for their backfield.  Silvers has weapons to pass to (Reynolds, Proehl and Kasen Williams hopefully soon) but he looks lost on 90% of the plays.  Let’s hope he bounces back this weekend.
  • The fans were amazing. Every single play there was noise from them.  Over 29,000 fans were in attendance.  Can they break that this week against Dallas?  (Today, February 18th, 2020 they announced they had over 10,000 season ticket holders!)

Bring on Dallas.  This is a 10-game season.  If we can maintain our home-field advantage, can they say playoffs!  Changes need to be made on offense and in the kicking game but if the defense continues their dominance, and they can avoid the injury bug, why can’t they make the post season.  Where is Kasen Williams!!! Jim Zorn has got this.

Let’s continue to fill those seats Dragon Nation!  Saturday February 22nd, 2020 is their next game at 2pm.  Hope to see you there at the Clink.

Go Dragons!

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