At long last, a team has beaten the Houston Roughnecks (4-1) in the XFL, and it’s courtesy of the Seattle Sea Dragons (3-2).
It was a mostly dominant defensive performance by the Sea Dragons in a 21-14 win over the Roughnecks at Lumen Field. This game should’ve never been close, but the Sea Dragons have a horrific turnover tendency unlike damn near any other team I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to be 3-2 with a -10 turnover differential but they accomplished that feat!
Seattle got on the board on a Ben DiNucci first quarter touchdown run on a scramble.
BIG BEN WITH THE BIG TD #XFL2023 | #BreatheFire pic.twitter.com/blpdbzRsbc— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) March 17, 2023
A scramble drill touchdown to Damion Willis right before halftime, followed by a rare successful three-point conversion gave Seattle a 15-0 halftime lead over the Roughnecks.
ANOTHER ONE— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) March 17, 2023
Ben DiNucci to Damion Willis #XFL2023 | #BreatheFire pic.twitter.com/2P9tXTQ5yv
Houston could hardly string together a drive worth anything, and their best series of the 1st half saw them lose a touchdown on a holding penalty and then former Seattle quarterback Brandon Silvers was strip-sacked by blitzing safety Antoine Brooks, resulting in a turnover.
The Sea Dragons special teams blocked a couple of punts, one of which led to the opening touchdown while the other... well Ben DiNucci can’t help himself, can he?
Ajene Harris picks off DiNucci!@ajeneharris | @XFLRoughnecks pic.twitter.com/FyI4lv3QyS— XFL (@XFL2023) March 17, 2023
DiNucci had already thrown an end zone interception in the opening half, so he decided to do it again but without pressure in his face.
Running back Morgan Ellison would lose a fumble in the 4th quarter with the score still 15-0, and an end zone pass interference led to a Max Borghi 1-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 15-6.
DiNucci was picked off again by Ajene Harris on a miscommunication between him and Josh Gordon, who was held to just a pair of catches for 15 yards. Thankfully the Sea Dragons defense forced a turnover on downs, and running back Darius Bradwell extended the lead to 21-6 with under two minutes left.
Just a juicy little touchdown to end the night #XFL2023 | #BreatheFire pic.twitter.com/53BXgQzUZF— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) March 17, 2023
But this is a Seattle gridiron football team and they will try and make life hard. Silvers threw a touchdown to Justin Smith on a 47-yard catch-and-run on 2nd and 20 with :24 left. A two-point conversion cut it to 21-14, and in the XFL the onside kick can be swapped out for the 4th and 15 conversion play. Seattle inexplicably gave up the sticks, and Deontay Burnett caught a 17-yard pass to keep the game alive.
A debatable pass interference set Houston up at Seattle’s 27 in the dying seconds, only for Elijah Ponder to swoop in for what is officially a QB hit and not a strip sack, and the ball floated into the arms of Niko Lalos for the game-winning interception.
WILD FINISH IN SEATTLE. The @XFL2023 after dark is crazy!— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenPFN) March 17, 2023
Niko Lalos with the game winning turnover, on the forced fumble by Elijah Ponder for the @XFLSeaDragons. What a game. #XFL pic.twitter.com/oiR3NB1L0Y
The Roughnecks were 5-0 in the 2020 XFL season, and 4-0 to start this year. Seattle has not only beaten them but put themselves right in the playoff hunt, with the undefeated DC Defenders and St. Louis Battlehawks (4-1) in their sights in their division. Only the top two from each division make the postseason, and there are five games to go.
Seattle’s next game is Saturday morning at the winless Orlando Guardians (0-4) at 10 AM PT on ABC. And no more Thursday home games this year, thankfully.