The Seattle Sea Dragons (4-2) stayed true to form by making sure even the winless Orlando Guardians (0-6) would have a chance at a win in the closing seconds, but Seattle’s defense held firm in the end for a 26-19 road victory. An 0-2 start by the barest of margins has turned into a 4-2 record... also by the barest of margins!
It was a searing hot day in Orlando, with temperatures in the 90s and little to no cloud cover. Seattle’s offense got off to a sluggish start in the opening half and trailed 10-9 at the break. They repeatedly failed to take advantage of big special teams returns by Kelvin McKnight, who had a 49-yard punt return and multiple kick returns into Orlando territory. Quarterback Ben DiNucci could not help himself and fired off his customary interception in the end zone.
DiNucci now leads the XFL with eight interceptions.
But DiNucci stayed turnover-free the rest of the game and threw touchdown passes to Blake Jackson and Jawan Green to help Seattle get that W.
WE OUT HERE BREATHING FIRE pic.twitter.com/z4cH9dWBVs— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) March 25, 2023
The key play with the score at 20-19 was this 4th quarter blocked punt by Elijah Ponder, who broke through the line and batted this ball all the way to Orlando’s 6, which set up Green’s score.
On a day when Josh Gordon was held to no catches and only a couple of targets, the Sea Dragons passing game was limited to just 18/35 for 177 yards, but Jackson stepped up with 6 catches for 79 yards and that aforementioned score.
Defensively, Quinton Normady was just 24/44 for 243 yards but didn’t turn the ball over. Running back Devin Darrington had both Orlando touchdowns, including a 43-yard dash on a 3rd and 6 handoff that should’ve never gained that many yards.
However, with Seattle leading 26-19, Darrington had a critical fumble (created by Antoine Brooks) after the two-minute warning that Seattle recovered to deny the Guardians a chance at the tie or a win. Naturally, the Sea Dragons went three-and-out instead of pick up a first down to ice things, and then it got dicey:
- In the XFL, touchbacks take the ball to the 35. Seattle punted for a touchback.
- Seattle lined up illegally, giving Orlando five more yards and therefore just 60 yards to go in 40 seconds.
- Seattle’s defense gave up two big passes and Orlando marched to the 25 with hardly any resistance.
Heartbreak coming, right? Nope. Seattle just blitzed Normady relentlessly and it worked out, forcing a turnover on downs and another Sea Dragons win.
Full game highlights
The Sea Dragons have now played six games.— Vincent Verhei (@FO_VVerhei) March 25, 2023
Either they or their opponents have snapped the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead in the last 30 seconds in ALL of them. https://t.co/iYi6VJ4elk
Next week, the Sea Dragons take on the Arlington Renegades (3-2) down in Texas on Friday, March 31st at 4 PM PT on FX and ESPN+. Two teams from each division make the XFL playoffs, so Seattle’s gotta keep winning and hope that the St. Louis Battlehawks stumble so they can put themselves in postseason position.