Winning football has returned to Washington, D.C.
The D.C. Defenders of the newly formed XFL beat the Seattle Dragons 31-19 on Saturday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 17,163 at Audi Field in the nation’s capital.
It was the first game of the revamped XFL’s 2020 season and there was no shortage of big plays throughout the contest. The league’s media accessibility and reconfigured rule book were put on full display as Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton spoke to sideline reporters at the end of scoring drives and teams chose between going for one, two or three extra points after touchdowns.
D.C. quarterback Cardale Jones, who won the College Football Playoff National Championship with Ohio State in 2015, threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns—with one going to former Redskins wide receiver Rashad Ross on a 31-yard toss and the other coming off a trick play that included two handoffs, a pitch and a ball thrown deep down field.
The Dragons and Defenders exchanged blows in a first half that ended on a 54-yard field goal off the foot of D.C. kicker Ty Rausa. Only eight NFL kickers made a field goal longer than Rausa’s in 2019.
After D.C. jumped out ahead early in the third quarter, Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers hit Austin Proehl for a 57-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 19-19. That would remain the score until Jones connected with Ross to give the Defenders a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Dragons made things interesting with a drive into Defenders territory a few minutes into the fourth, but former Alabama defensive back Bradley Sylve picked off a Silvers' pass and ran it back 69 yards to pad D.C.’s lead.
After picking up their first win in franchise history, the Defenders will turn their attention to the New York Guardians. D.C. will once again play host, with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.
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