Week 4 of the XFL season is in the books, and the TV ratings declined for the third straight week, averaging 1.38 million viewers over the 4 games, which is down from 1.61 million last week. And although it can be easy to push the panic button, there is hope, as the Saturday evening match up between the Seattle Dragons and the St. Louis Battlehawks drew 1.8 million viewers, which was the 8th most of ANY sporting event over the weekend.
That includes a NASCAR race, 2 separate match ups between the Los Angeles Lakers and Zion WIlliamson’s New Orleans Pelicans, and Friday Night Smackdown, which I am sure will help keep the XFL afloat for a little while (Reports are that Vince McMahon is prepared to lose $375 million of the first 3 years of the league in order to get a big TV contract after that time).
This was also the first week that overall attendance went down in the young season, but once again a closer look at the numbers gives some hope. Obviously the previously winless Tamp Bay Vipers were going to struggle to get attendance in their game this weekend, drawing only 12,249 people to their game, and the New York Guardians have struggled as well this season, and only had 12,116 fans at their game against the Los Angeles Wildcats, who have also struggled this year so far.
On the other hand, the Dallas Renegades had their biggest turnout of the young season, with 18,332 in attendance to watch the lone star match up with the Houston Roughnecks, almost reaching the capacity of 19,000. And St. Louis had another great turnout, of 27,527, which technically was a drop from their first game but still one of the highest in the XFL for the season.
Once again, the games were largely competitive, with 3 of the 4 games decided by one score. Cardale Jones once again faltered on the road, Landry Jones had a horrible game but almost pulled off the comeback. Jordan Ta’mu led his team to another victory, and PJ Walker kept his team as the only undefeated Team in the XFL.
Los Angeles Wildcats 14, New York Guardians 17
In a surprisingly entertaining game, the Guardians won behind 3 field goals from kicker Matt McCrane, including a 47 yarder and a 51 yarder. Guardians quarterback Luis Perez, filling in for injured Matt Mcgloin, was efficient, throwing for 150 yards on 18 of 26 passing and a touchdown, and most importantly no turnovers. Darius Victor, listed at 5’6″and 226 pounds, led the way for the Guardians running game, rushing for 82 yards on 18 carries.
Josh Johnson kept the Wildcats in the game, throwing for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but had a costly interception which may have give Los Angeles a chance to win the game. Tre McBride had another nice game, with 8 catches for 127 yards receiving and a touchdown, but it was not quite enough as the Wildcats were not able to maintain their momentum from their first victory of the season last week.
Seattle Dragons 16, St. Louis Battlehawks 23
In a highly anticipated game between two teams that had high expectations coming into the season, Seattle was unable to get their second win of the season, struggling to get their offense on track. They had 9 different receivers catch a pass, but no receiver had more than 2 catches. Coach Jim Zorn tried to light a fire under his team when he benched starting quarterback Brandon Silvers in the second half, but back up B.J. Daniels was unable to finish the rally and get the win.
Battlehawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu helped his legacy once again, having an outstanding game both through the air and with his legs, leading St. Louis in rushing with 63 yards on 16 carries to go along with 264 yards passing on 74% passing, with 1 touchdown pass. Taylor Russolino added 3 field goals which was more than enough to get the Battlehawks their third victory of the season and a 1 game lead over the DC Defenders in the Eastern Division.
Houston Roughnecks 27, Dallas Renegades 20
In the Texas-sized match up between the top two teams in the Western Division, Landry Jones 3 interceptions helped put the Renegades in a 15-0 hole which they were unable to come back from. Although the Renegades were able to close the gap to 15-11 at the half, and then 21-20 in the fourth quarter, Jones’ 4th turnover when he was sacked and fumbled turned out to be the difference, when Roughnecks linebacker Edmond Robinson finished the trifecta, with a sack, fumble and return for a touchdown to finish the scoring.
The Renegades actually kept opposing quarterback P.J. Walker largely in check, only allowing 2 touchdown passes, which is Walker’s lowest of the season, and intercepted Walker for only the second time this season, and first time since the opening game. In fact, this was the lowest scoring output of the season for the Roughnecks, who were also helped out with the 4 turnovers by the Renegades.
With the win, Houston is the lone undefeated team in the XFL, and now two games ahead of second place Dallas with the tie breaker. With one more game between the two teams on April 2nd in Houston, it looks like Houston could possibly have home field throughout the playoffs, since the championship game will be in Houston as well.
DC Defenders 0, Tampa Bay 27
After the first two weeks, it looked like the DC Defenders were unstoppable. Cardale Jones was having a fantastic season, and Defenders had defeated their first two opponents 58-19. Then they went on the road, and have been outscored 64-9 in the last two games, both against teams who had not won a game coming into their match up.
Cardale Jones, who had people wondering why he was not playing in the NFL after two weeks, showed why in the last two games, throwing for a combined 175 yards in the two games, and 5 interceptions with no touchdowns. He looks completely lost, overthrowing wide open receivers and not being able to get anything going offensively.
Tampa Bay had struggled mightily on offense the first 3 weeks, particularly at the quarterback position. However, Marc Trestman seems to have finally found his quarterback, after the carousel ended with Taylor Cornelius having by far the best game of the year for a Viper quarterback, throwing for 277 yards on 77% completion percentage. He took care of the ball, only throwing 1 interception, 1 touchdown pass and added one on the ground as well.
In addition to the solid play from Cornelius, the Vipers had two running backs rush for over 100 yards, with De’veon Smith getting 122 yards and Jacques Patrick added 108 yards, both over 5 yards/carry.
The Vipers will look to continue their winning streak next week in Los Angeles, while the Defenders will return home and hope to return to their good play from the beginning of the season as they face the St. Louis Battlehawks.
Even though the TV ratings have dropped, they are still nowhere near as bad as the Alliance of American Football from a year ago. The games will still be spread across major networks, such as ABC and ESPN, so that will help keep the XFL in the spotlight. We are about halfway through the 10-game season, and playoff races will start to heat up and cause interest, especially in cities like Houston and St. Louis.
What do you think so far of the XFL season? Have you watched any of the games, or been to one? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!