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XFL Playoffs 2023: Seattle Sea Dragons pay penalty for sloppy play, blown out 37-21 by DC Defenders

It all unraveled for the Sea Dragons in the XFL North Championship.

XFL: Seattle Sea Dragons at D.C. Defenders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Seattle football team made the playoffs (with help) on the final day of the regular season, only to get blown out in the 2nd half against a team they’d lost to twice before.

That’s the story of not just our Seattle Seahawks, but incredibly the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons.

A 9-9 halftime score against the DC Defenders gave away to a lopsided 2nd half that was not as close as even the 37-21 final margin indicated. The Sea Dragons were astoundingly sloppy, committing a preposterous 13 penalties, many of them extending drives for the Defenders offense. Easily the worst sequence was when they were penalized for 12 men on the field for a 4th and 6 punt at the end of the 3rd quarter. Review caught the infraction, the Defenders went for it on 4th and 1 and drew them offsides, setting up what was essentially the dagger touchdown by Cam’Ron Harris to make it 30-9 in the 4th.

Ben DiNucci, for once, didn’t turn the ball over. Unfortunately, he was let down by his receivers on a comically high number of drops from Josh Gordon, Juwan Green, and Jahcour Pearson (among others). It must have been at least eight, many of which came off the hands of Green, who had 8 catches for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns but on 16 targets.

The Sea Dragons’ pass-heavy run-and-shoot offense under June Jones also was pass, pass, and more passing. Phillip Lindsay had two carries for -3 yards, DiNucci scrambled for 16 yards, and that was it. They had two called running plays all game. IS THIS THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL?! Thankfully not.

This touchdown by Pearson was pretty cool, though.

As was this unreal interception on a tip drill by Antoine Brooks that was straight out of vintage Seahawks football.

The Defenders came out of halftime with a touchdown drive engineered by Jordan Ta’amu, who wasn’t sacked outside of a play that was negated due to a Sea Dragons face mask. Abram Smith gave DC a 15-9 lead with a 1-yard TD, then Ethan Wolf broke free on a crosser that essentially made the game unrecoverable given the Sea Dragons’ one-dimensional attack.

The Defenders will play the Arlington Renegades on May 13 in San Antonio for the XFL title. Arlington was 4-6 in regular season play but they upset the Houston Roughnecks on Saturday to avenge two prior losses to them, and they took the Defenders to overtime in the regular season.

Seattle lived on the edge all season and lost their three regular season games by a combined 7 points, but didn’t win a regular season game by 10+ points until the penultimate week. On a cloudy and at times rainy afternoon in Washington DC, they picked a bad time to play their worst game and paid the price.


Full highlights

And on that note, the next time any Seattle gridiron football team plays meaningful football is in September.

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