We finally have XFL controversy, and it screwed over the Seattle Dragons (1-4).
The heavy underdogs had a 14-0 lead in the 1st half against the undefeated Houston Roughnecks (5-0), squandered it all by halftime, surged to a 23-14 lead in the 3rd quarter, only for PJ Walker and Cam Phillips to help lead Houston to 18 unanswered points for the 32-23 win.
BJ Daniels was 14/22 for just 114 yards and a critical lost fumble that meant for the second week in a row, his first turnover of the game doubled as Seattle’s final offensive play. He did rush for two touchdowns but the offense as a whole, despite the 23 points, only averaged 3.46 yards per play in their first full game of the Daniels era. Two of their touchdown drives were 1 yard and 18 yards respectively.
The Dragons defense intercepted MVP candidate PJ Walker twice, strip-sacked him once, but couldn’t make critical stops whatsoever in the 4th quarter. Cam Phillips caught a pair of touchdowns to give him a league-leading nine on the year, but thanks to big stops on the point-after conversions, Seattle was still in it in the final two minutes. Unfortunately, with the game on the line, they were gashed on a 3rd and 10 draw that should’ve resulted in kneeldowns and the clock running out.
Well technically, that’s what happened. In reality, the Dragons should’ve had a chance to tie the game with a play from Houston’s 21 and a three-point conversion had they scored a touchdown.
In what can only be considered a horrible look for what has otherwise been a smooth-sailing season for XFL officiating, PJ Walker was instructed to kill the remaining four seconds of game clock on 4th down. Usually this means flinging the ball along the sidelines and out of bounds. Instead, he took another kneel and was clearly down with :02 left. That should’ve been a turnover on downs and Seattle getting the ball back.
Instead, we had the clock run to :00, game over, referees leave the field, and no one could do a damn thing about it. The XFL’s officiating supervisor Wes Booker then went on live TV and spewed some verbal diarrhea that, if this were the NFL, would dominate headlines for an entire week.
The thing about giving TV and fans access to the decision-making process is that you have to actually be able to explain your decisions when there is controversy. pic.twitter.com/dL4tUkACbL— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 7, 2020
ESPN crew not shy about calling out XFL over their weird nonsensical reason for ending a game with two seconds left on the clock and a team on offense with a legitimate chance to tie. pic.twitter.com/oG5LRvaRbl— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 7, 2020
No one is saying the Dragons got screwed out of a win, but they sure as hell got screwed out of a chance to tie. The XFL is trying to establish itself as a long-term viable league and with a glaring clock error in a one-possession game, they handled it in the most hamfisted way imaginable.
Now speaking of clock problems, Jim Zorn blew both of his timeouts in the 3rd quarter because of total failure to get the play off in time. One of them was at the 1-yard line after a near pick-six by Marko Myers. Hardly the first time a Seattle football team had the ball at the one and then forgot to have the next play and the right personnel ready.
The Dragons return home to take on the Los Angeles Wildcats at 4 PM PT on March 15th, pending any coronavirus related postponements.