20 Mar

D.C. wins wild shootout to cool off Sea Dragons, new rules debut in two OT games

There wasn’t a single overtime game through the first seven weeks of the 2023 XFL season, but in Week 8 not only did we get the first look at the league’s unconventional new OT rules — a second look came a day later. Then in the Week 8 finale, about the only thing missing was OT as the D.C. Defenders cooled off the Seattle Sea Dragons in a wild shootout, 34-33.

The St. Louis Battlehawks got the OT ball rolling on Saturday, overcoming a double-digit deficit and an injured starting quarterback to beat the Vegas Vipers in the extra period. On Sunday, the Houston Roughnecks also won in OT, stopping their three-game skid after a 4-0 start. In the new overtime rules, the XFL gives each team three alternating attempts to convert two-point conversions from their opponent’s 5-yard line to decide a winner (more on that below).

On Sunday night the league’s two hottest teams played a thriller, as the Defenders bounced back from their only loss to stop Seattle’s win streak at four games.

We’ve got takeaways from every Week 8 game. First, here’s a look at the scores.

St. Louis Battlehawks 21, Vegas Vipers 17 (OT)
Arlington Renegades 18, Orlando Guardians 16

Houston Roughnecks 17, San Antonio Brahmas 15 (OT)
D.C. Defenders 34, Seattle Sea Dragons 33

Sunday’s games
D.C. goes to 7-1 in Game of the Year candidate at Seattle
It was a clash between two of the league’s hottest teams, and it lived up to the billing. D.C.’s Jordan Ta’amu (247 yards, 4 TDs) and Seattle’s Ben DiNucci (301 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) put on a quarterback clinic, combining for 548 yards and 7 touchdowns at rainy Lumen Field in Seattle.

The Defenders bounced back from the strangest result of the season — losing to previously winless Orlando — to hand the Sea Dragons their first loss in five games. Ta’amu battled through a shoulder injury to put up gaudy numbers. Former Denver Broncos running back Philip Lindsay scored a touchdown in his first game with Seattle, the Sea Dragons’ only first-half points as D.C. led 16-6 at the break.

The Defenders led by 10 with just over 5 minutes left in the game, but a DiNucci touchdown — followed by this wild three-point conversion — cut the D.C. lead to 28-27.

The @XFLSeaDragons just converted the coolest three point attempt of all-time 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Sj9TE4mifl

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 10, 2023
The Defenders answered with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Ta’amu to Chris Blair, but didn’t get the two-point conversion, and Seattle was down just seven. DiNucci promptly drove the Sea Dragons down the field and hit Jahcour Pearson for the score with :31 remaining. Seattle went for two and the win, but D.C.’s defense made the play of the game, sacking DiNucci to hold on.

D.C. has the XFL’s best record at 7-1, but half their games have been decided by four points or fewer. The Sea Dragons are currently out of the playoff picture, sitting a game behind the St. Louis Battlehawks for the second and final berth in the North Division.

Roughnecks clinch playoff berth with OT victory
The Roughnecks led 15-6 with 3 minutes left in the game when a Brandon Silvers interception opened the door for the Brahmas. San Antonio’s John Parker Romo hit a 49-yard field goal with :01 left to force the XFL’s second overtime in 24 hours.

The entire game was a defensive struggle and the overtime was no different. With each team getting three alternating attempts to convert two-point conversions from their opponent’s 5, neither could convert on their first two. With one attempt left, Houston finally broke through, as Cole McDonald hit Deontay Burnett for the game-winner, followed by a critical defensive stop.

Burnett also caught this TD in regulation from Silvers, who threw for 146 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.

Brandon Silvers connects with Deontay Burnett pic.twitter.com/y9tiZ9wO0W

— Houston XFL Roughnecks (@xfl_houston) April 9, 2023
The Roughnecks clinched a playoff spot with the win, despite entering on a three-game losing streak. At 5-3, South Division-leading Houston is three games up on the third-place Brahmas (2-6) with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Saturday’s games
Battlehawks win XFL’s first OT game as wild new rules debut
St. Louis was rolling entering Week 8 behind red-hot quarterback A.J. McCarron, but McCarron was forced to sit in Week 8 due to a shoulder injury. With backup Nick Tiano filling in, the Battlehawks won despite trailing 17-8 midway through the fourth quarter in the first game using the XFL’s new overtime rules.

St. Louis’ Donny Hageman kicked a field goal with 15 seconds left in regulation to force the XFL’s first OT game of the season. With each team getting three alternating attempts to convert two-point conversions from their opponent’s 5, the Battlehawks prevailed in the OT, 2-0. St. Louis’ Brian Hill rushed into the end zone on the team’s second attempt to secure the victory, and players celebrated by leaping into the stands, where there were a reported 35,000-plus fans in attendance.



PLAYERS ARE IN THE STANDS! pic.twitter.com/uo0rRNRrxH

— Daniel Esteve (@DanielJEsteve) April 8, 2023
Defense ruled the afternoon, as Tiano threw for 194 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs. Vipers quarterback Jalan McClendon was held to 159 yards passing with 1 TD.

The good news for the Battlehawks is they improved to 6-2. The bad news: Three teams in the North Division entered Week 8 with two losses or fewer, and only two of them will make the playoffs.

Renegades force five turnovers, Perez starts after trade
The Arlington Renegades may not be the XFL’s best team but they’ve managed to win half their games so far, and on Saturday they got another victory by forcing five Guardians turnovers in Orlando.

The Renegades’ only offensive touchdown came via De’Veon Smith, who rushed for a score in the third quarter. Orlando managed just two offensive touchdowns, both coming via quarterback Quinten Dormady who had one rushing and one passing TD — a week after totaling six touchdowns.

Luis Perez, in his Renegades debut, went 16 of 25 for 190 yards. Perez was traded from the Vegas Vipers to the Renegades for linebacker Ryan Mueller at the end of March, a day after Arlington released quarterback Kyle Sloter.

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