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Seattle Dragons S Jordan Martin
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3 takeaways from Seattle Dragons’ 17-9 win over Tampa Bay Vipers

Seattle Dragons S Jordan Martin celebrates with excited fans after the team's 17-9 win. (Getty)

It took two weeks, but the Seattle Dragons have their first win in the history of the franchise after upending the Tampa Bay Vipers 17-9 in the team’s home opener.

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It wasn’t pretty, but Jim Zorn and company held on for the close win after struggling tremendously on offense throughout the contest.

Tampa Bay struck first with a field goal in the second quarter, which it carried into halftime for a 3-0 lead. The Vipers followed that up with an interception of Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers that was returned for a touchdown, taking a 9-0 lead. But after that, it was all Seattle.

Silvers found receiver Keenan Reynolds for a big 68-yard touchdown, making it a 9-6 game.

A few minutes later, with Tampa Bay backed up to their end zone and facing a third-and-24, Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius was trying to throw a screen pass, but he didn’t get enough air under it. Dragons defensive end Marcell Frazier split a double team, leaped up to break up the pass and ended up catching it and taking it a short distance into the end zone for a pick-6.

Silvers found Reynolds again for a 2-point conversion, and Seattle had a 14-9 lead that it added a field goal to with just over a minute left, giving the Dragons a 17-9 advantage that they held for the rest of the game.

With Seattle’s first win in the books, here’s the three biggest takeaways from the Dragons’ win in the home opener.

1) The defense is legit

Just looking at last week’s 31-19 loss to the D.C. Defenders from the scoreboard, you would think that the Dragons’ defense was a problem. That was hardly the case.

Facing arguably the best player in the league in Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones, the Dragons gave up just 19 points and 295 yards in the loss. It wasn’t their fault a Silvers pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown after receiver Austin Proehl slipped and fell, or that a punt was blocked in the end zone and picked up for a touchdown.

The Seattle Dragons’ defense picked up where they left off and then some against the Vipers.

“I’m proud of our defense,” said Zorn, who coached the Dragons in the shadow of his name on the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor in CenturyLink Field. “Last week, they played 56 plays. Today, the opponent actually put 75 plays on them, so they really had to play a lot more.  I thought our rotations went really well with our D-line in keeping people fresh, and our communication in the linebacker positions with the secondary kept us in the game.”

Regardless of who was in at quarterback for the Vipers, Seattle was constantly creating pressure and had four sacks, two quarterback hits and broke up five passes. The Dragons also had three interceptions.

The first pick was by cornerback Jeremy Clark, who played sound in coverage all game and added three tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass deflections to his interception. As noted earlier, Frazier had the play of the game in his pick-6 and linebacker Kyle Quiero picked off Cornerlius’ final pass in the end zone with no time remaining.

“I’m just so excited for him,” Zorn said of Frazier and his great play. “D-linemen never get that kind of glory or whatever … he was holding court inside the locker room and I was happy for him.”

Linebacker Steven Johnson led the team with 10 tackles, two of which were for loss, and cornerback Steve Williams had seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks.

The defense gave up some yards on the Vipers’ final drive, including a touchdown that was called back for offensive pass interference, but overall it played a sound, hard-hitting game.

2) Seattle has issues at quarterback

Last week, Silvers completed 21 of 40 passes and had three touchdowns, but he also had two interceptions and missed some throws.

He left the end of the game injured, but suited up and played all of Week 2. The results were sub-par on Saturday, however.

Silvers completed just 7 of 18 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown, throwing the aforementioned pick-6 as well. He had some receivers open that he just flat-out missed, and really made just one big play in this 68-yard pass to Reynolds.

Some fans chanted for backup quarterback B.J. Daniels, but Zorn stuck with Silvers.

“I heard some of the frustration, but we were all frustrated,” Zorn said. “I wasn’t going to panic. If that would have been a continuation into the second half or just continuing to prolong these things, I probably would have had to (make a switch at quarterback).”

Silvers admitted he didn’t play well and that the offense’s struggles start with him.

“I didn’t play well in the first half and I knew it,” he said. “I didn’t hit throws I usually make, so you’ve just got to keep pushing, keep working hard and we had that first big ball and that added to our confidence.”

Luckily, the trio of running backs Kenneth Farrow, Trey Williams and Ja’Quan Gardner combined for 117 yards on 31 carries. That was especially key late in the game to help milk clock and set up the team’s final score.

Silvers will look to get on track next week against the Dallas Renegades. If he doesn’t, Daniels, the former Seahawks quarterback and receiver, may get his chance as the team’s signal caller.

3) Seattle is all for more football

29,172.

That’s how many fans attended the first home game in the history of the Seattle Dragons.

The crowd was loud, engaged and were rewarded with the franchise’s first win.

There were some questions with the launch of the XFL in terms of how many fans would want more football so soon after the NFL season ended, but Seattle fans came out in full force at their first possible opportunity.

“What was fun for us as a team was to see the support we got from the fans, just filling that (lower bowl of the stadium),” Zorn said. “The Seattle fans being loud and understanding how to help (the team on defense) and wanting to (was great).”

The 29,172 attendance figure was the highest mark the XFL has seen thus far, which will be a big boost for attendance numbers overall.

“The Seattle fans are awesome,” Silvers said. “Just coming out and playing in an XFL game, you don’t know who’s going to show up … I thought they did a good job. The whole game, it was loud.”

The Seattle Dragons will have their second home game next Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. against Dallas before traveling to St. Louis to take on the Battlehawks on Feb. 29.

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