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XFL’s fourth-and-15 onside kick alternative contributes to dramatic comeback win

Mike Florio and Chris Simms argue the pros and cons to the USFL and XFL revising the touchback rule on fumbles to give the ball back to the offense, and how it relates to the current NFL rules.

The XFL employs a more exciting alternative to the onside kick, and it contributed to a thrilling finish in today’s XFL game.

The San Antonio Brahmas led the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-3 with just 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, but St. Louis scored a touchdown and a three-point conversion from the 10-yard line to make the score 15-12.

That’s when the unique onside kick alternative came into play: After a touchdown, the XFL allows teams to opt to line up at their own 25-yard line facing a fourth-and-15, and if they convert the first down, they keep the ball.

St. Louis converted, with quarterback AJ McCarron hitting receiver Austin Proehl for the first down. The BattleHawks then marched down the field for a touchdown, again coming with McCarron hitting Proehl, and won the game 18-15.

It was an exciting ending to what had been a fairly dull game leading up to that point, and it was another illustration of how the best chance of the XFL and USFL to generate fan interest is to employ innovative rules and strategies. That certainly happened today.