Seattle Dragons takeaways: 3 turnovers not enough as Houston pulls away late
Mar 7, 2020, 2:27 PM
The Seattle Dragons had a great chance to shock the XFL world by knocking off the Houston Roughnecks, the league’s lone remaining team, but the defense couldn’t stop Houston’s high-powered offense, led by the duo of P.J. Walker and Cam Phillips, in the second half, and they fell to 1-4 after losing 32-23.
Things started great for the Dragons with B.J. Daniels as the starting quarterback for the first time this year, as he scored a rushing touchdown on the team’s second drive of the game after Jacquies Smith forced a fumble on a strip sack and also recovered the ball. After forcing a punt, Seattle put together a nice drive and running back Trey Williams, playing in his hometown, scored from 17 yards out. An Austin Proehl catch on the 2-point try gave Seattle a 14-0 lead, stunning the crowd.
📺: ABC pic.twitter.com/a7e0G21Yvy
— XFL on FOX (@XFLonFOX) March 7, 2020
Houston answered, however, as Walker threw a 50-yard touchdown to Nick Holley and with not much time left in the half, running back James Butler scored on a short run, which was followed by a successful 2-point conversion. The game went into halftime tied at 14.
Ernesto Laayo drilled a 47-yard field goal early in the third quarter to get the lead back, and after Marko Myers picked off Walker and returned it to the 1, Daniels scored his second rushing touchdown of the day, giving Seattle a 23-14 lead.
— Seattle Dragons (@XFLDragons) March 7, 2020
From there, it was all Houston.
Walker led another long drive and Butler got his second score, and later, Walker found Phillips twice for touchdowns, giving Houston a 32-23 lead that held the rest of the way.
Here are three takeaways from the close Saturday contest.
Better with Daniels, but second half struggles continue
The Seattle Dragons’ offense moves the ball Daniels at quarterback than with Brandon Silvers, but the second half struggles we saw in weeks past continued, especially in the fourth quarter.
The Dragons did get 9 points in the third quarter, but 6 of them were because of Myers’ interception, which gave them the ball at the 1. After that, they really struggled to get the ball rolling and put drives together.
They had two consecutive three-and-outs while Houston’s offense was just bullying the Dragons’ defense, and when Seattle had a chance to tie it while down 9, Daniels fumbled the ball on third down and never got the ball back.
Additionally, Seattle could have made things harder on Houston time-wise, but the Dragons used both their second half timeouts early in the third quarter, so they couldn’t stop the clock late. Who knows what difference that could have made.
Daniels finished the day 14/22 with 114 passing yards and ran it 10 times for 30 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite overall struggles, defense continues to make plays
The Dragons forced three turnovers Saturday – two interceptions and a fumble – and the offense scored 12 points off of those turnovers.
Those turnovers really gave Seattle a fighting chance because for multiple lengths of time, they just didn’t have an answer for Walker or the running game.
Smith’s strip sack gave Seattle early life, and Myers’ pick set up a touchdown as well, but it was Jordan Martin who made, in my opinion, the play of the game with a miraculous sideline interception that was initially ruled an incomplete pass.
— Seattle Dragons (@XFLDragons) March 7, 2020
Even with Daniels under center and the offense playing better, the defense will need to continue to force takeaways if Seattle wants to remain competitive the rest of the way.
Walker and Phillips are deadly
Walker had three turnovers, but still put up great numbers Saturday, completing 27 of 38 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
He doesn’t rush much, but he does use his legs to make big plays in the passing game, similar to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who Walker was compared to in the pre-game broadcast.
Speaking of the Seahawks, play-by-play man Steve Levy said that multiple members of the Seahawks organization were in attendance to scout Walker. 2019 backup Geno Smith is a free agent, so Wilson is the only quarterback on the roster currently.
Walker, 25, is a former Indianapolis Colts practice squad member, so he has some familiarity with the league.
He is by far the face of the XFL and is the favorite to win the MVP, and his elite play could be earning himself a big opportunity. We could soon see him in Seattle, but for the Seahawks backing up Wilson.
And when talking about Walker, you have to talk about his partner in crime of Cam Phillips, who is far and away the best receiver in the league.
Walker leads the XFL with 1,338 passing yards and 15 touchdowns and a lot of those yards and scores belong to Phillips.
Phillips has 455 receiving yards, easily the most in the XFL, and he also has scored nine touchdowns. Against the Dragons, Phillips caught 10 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Like his quarterback, Phillips, 24, could soon find himself on an NFL roster.
The Seattle Dragons return home next week to take on the Los Angeles Wildcats. Seattle has some work to do if they have any chance of making the playoffs or even finishing the year at .500.