Knowing a loss would eliminate them from postseason contention, the Sea Dragons picked one hell of a time to have their first blowout win all year, taking apart the favored St. Louis Battlehawks (6-3) by a score of 30-12 to silence the 31,000+ fans in attendance. Ben DiNucci threw for two touchdowns, emphatically ran for another, and endured some big hits early on to lead his team to a massive victory. The Sea Dragons defense weathered an early storm where it looked like Marcel Ateman and Darius Shepherd were going to turn into the XFL version of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, and held the Battlehawks to just a field goal after halftime.
The Sea Dragons took an early 8-0 lead on a T.J. Hammonds touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion by Phillip Lindsay. St. Louis responded with the next nine points, including a horrific blown coverage touchdown to Shepherd for a 42-yard score. Back came the Sea Dragons in the tail-end of the 2nd quarter with a Josh Gordon grab on 4th-and-1 for 42 yards. A rollout touchdown to Blake Veasy put Seattle up 14-9 at the break.
By far the play of the game (and season) was a 3rd-and-15 throw by DiNucci to Jahcour Pearson, who dodged, dashed, and sped his way to a 68-yard touchdown. I’m not joking when I say I’d like Pearson to get a camp tryout with the Seahawks. He leads the XFL in receptions and receiving yards and probably picked up more YAC on this TD than the entire Seahawks team did last year.
The Sea Dragons defense harassed McCarron relentlessly, stymied St. Louis’ running game (outside of a couple of good carries by former Seahawks receiver Gary Jennings Jr), and stalled their drives out.
With the score at 20-12 in the 4th quarter, kicker Dominik Eberle missed a 52-yarder that would’ve given Seattle a two-score lead. Following a turnover on downs, Seattle got the ball back, were in position to score again, only for DiNucci to throw his customary end zone interception. No worries, as Bryce Thompson got the ball back on the next play by picking McCarron off.
For the dagger TD, DiNucci ran over St. Louis’ Silas Kelly in the end zone on the QB draw. Game, set, and match.
An interesting thing is that the Sea Dragons got the ball back but did not go into victory formation. Instead, they kicked a field goal with no time left to get a 30-12 win. Now why would they do that? Well...
The Sea Dragons and Battlehawks are both 6-3, and if Seattle wins next week they will finish with an identical 3-3 division record. Both teams have lost to each other and both have been swept by the DC Defenders. Strength of victory should be identical if both St. Louis and Seattle win next week because they’d be .500 against each other and 0-2 vs. DC. That leaves you with the fourth tiebreaker of “Best combined ranking among division teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.”
At the moment, the Sea Dragons have higher rankings in points scored and points allowed, so while I don’t have the convoluted playoff scenarios in my head, ESPN saying the Battlehawks are “win-and-in” against the Orlando Guardians (1-8) next week I think is factually incorrect.
By the way, that 18-point margin is larger than any Seattle Seahawks road win over the St. Louis Rams. Seattle’s biggest victory in the dome was 24-7 back in 2011, so clearly the Sea Dragons were going for a Seattle football team record.
Seattle hosts the Vegas Vipers (2-7) on April 23 at 7 PM ET on ESPN2/ESPN+.