Through the first two weeks of the XFL season, the DC Defenders looked unbeatable.
In Week 1, they thrashed the Seattle Dragons in front of a sellout crowd at Audi Field. A week later, they shut out the New York Guardians in front of a near packed house and celebrated in style afterward.
Just maybe the Defenders partied a little too hard. They were on the road the past two weeks, and both results were the same: blowouts. Former Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson dominated the Defenders defense en route to an LA Wildcats 39-9 victory in Week 3. A week later, the previously winless Tampa Bay Vipers shut out the Defenders, 25-0.
As the XFL season hits its halfway point in Week 5, the Defenders have been two different teams, depending on the venue they play in. So, it makes all the sense as to why they're so excited to return home.
"It's great to be back at Audi Field on this coming Sunday and be back on familiar turf," Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton said. "We're looking forward to getting back on the field and atoning for some of the things that happened in the past couple games that we've had to correct."
Part of the reason the Defenders are so excited to return home is the outstanding crowd atmosphere the fans provided through the first two weeks of the season. Everyone in the organization, not just the players, fed off the crowd's energy during the first two weeks of the season.
"Out of all the stadiums I've been in my life, Audi Field is one of the best. I'm not lying," safety Rahim Moore said. "The first game, I was shocked. I was impressed. It's exciting to be back."
That's high praise coming from Moore, who was a second-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos in 2011 and played in Mile High Stadium for four seasons, one of the best atmospheres in the NFL.
"It's funny, like, when you're in there, you see everybody. I think that's what makes it so great," Moore said of the Audi Field crowd. "They're loud, man. For a minute, I thought the XFL paid them to be loud. I was shocked. I saw [the fans] with their shields, they are so in tune. They love football. Every time we go there, we give them a show, so we're looking forward to doing that this weekend for sure."
Hamilton echoed Moore's statement on praise for the fans.
"We appreciate the fans and the energy our fans bring on game day," Hamilton said. "I think it makes all the difference with our players. They'll tell you first hand that the energy we get from our fan base, it fuels them not only emotionally but it gets them fired up and excited and giving the fans more reason to celebrate."
Out of all the players ready to return to Audi Field, Cardale Jones has to be near the top of the list.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Jones threw four touchdown passes to just one interception and led the XFL in passer rating. Over the past two weeks, Jones has thrown five interceptions, no touchdowns and the team has scored a collective nine points on the road.
When asked if he was ready to return home, Jones kept his answer short and sweet.
"Yeah," he said. "I think we have the best home-field advantage and the best fans overall."
As the Defenders look to get back in the win column, they'll have their hands full when the St. Louis Battlehawks come to town.
The Battlehawks have won their last two contests and currently possess the top spot in the East division through four weeks at 3-1. Only the Houston Roughnecks (4-0) have a better record across the entire league.
"They're a really good football team, I think the best one we're going to play so far," Moore said. "We need a collective agreement from everybody to just buy in. We've done that, we've shown that. This weekend, we're going to be a way better football team, I can guarantee you that."
MORE DEFENDERS NEWS
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