Well that was different.
The Vipers (1-3) looked like a very different team on the way to a 25-0 victory over the D.C. Defenders (2-2). The defense was the story of the game, pitching a shutout and forcing an interception from Cardale Jones, who looked uncomfortable all game. The offense couldn’t be stopped on the ground, with running backs Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith leading the way with both hitting the century mark. Hell, even Taylor Cornelius ran the ball well, contributing 52 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking of Cornelius, I have to give it to the former Oklahoma State Cowboy. He had a phenomenal game, going 24 for 31 with 211 yards, a rushing and a passing touchdown, and only one interception. He looked really good. He was comfortable in the pocket, and he was making good decisions with the football (save for that one atrocious pick.) Plus, there were only a couple throws that made me just groan (overthrowing receiver Dan Williams has become a bit of a hobby for Cornelius.)
Defensively, the Vipers were lights out. Jones was not good. He threw for 72 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He was even replaced for a play by backup Tyree Jackson, but Jones was quickly inserted back into the game after one play for Jackson (I guess they didn’t like the way he handed the ball off?) Jackson took over for the next next series, but the result was a punt following a three-and-out (a common occurrence for the Defenders in this game). As for running the football? Yeah, nothing there either. The Defenders ran for 46 yards (not even half of Patrick’s total for the game).
.@XFLVipers RB Jacques Patrick was emotional when he scored his first professional touchdown after his father died last Friday 🙏 pic.twitter.com/TjCKBQ9OX2— ESPN (@espn) March 2, 2020
The star of the game for the Vipers defensively in the first half was Bobby Richardson. The defensive end out of Indiana had a tackle for a loss and a pass deflection.
Now, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the Vipers (well, except for on defense). There were the aforementioned overthrows by Cornelius targeting Dan Williams, and the Vipers were forced to settle for a couple field goals in the red zone. Plus, Vipers kicker Andrew Franks missed a 32-yard field goal. Yikes. Also, the announced attendance for the game was an abysmal 12,249.
The Vipers head to Los Angeles to take on the Wildcats (1-3) next Sunday at 9 p.m. The Vipers may be favorites heading into the game following the Wildcats loss to the New York Guardians 17-14 this past Saturday, but their inconsistent play to start the year makes the win far from secure.
Hopefully the good vibes of this game will carry over into next week, but the continued red zone struggles are a bad sign.
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