Congrats to the New York Guardians (1-0) to your first win of the 2020 season in XFL! They won 23-3 behind two early touchdowns and their offense slamming the door on the Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1) hopes with more physical play in the 2nd half.
The Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin looked confident and poised in the pocket to start the game. He finished the half with 154 yards and one passing touchdown. He also added a rushing touchdown that started the scoring. His best throw of the half was a 45 yard strike to receiver Mekale McKay and then on the next play WR Colby Pearson caught a 12 yard TD on a double move, where he was wide open on a double move in the left back corner of the end zone to extend their lead to 14-0.
Their defense seemed to confuse Vipers’ QB Aaron Murray, forcing him into 2 bad interceptions that ended promising drives. FS Andrew Soroh snatched a tipped pass in the right corner of the end zone and then CB Byron Jones was on the receiving end of another tipped pass at the end of the 2nd quarter that lead to a 49 yard field goal. This gave the Guardians a 17-0 lead at the half. Even though they only had one sack in the first half, they have taken advantage of Murray scrambling and pressuring him into incompletions with tight coverage.
Point(s) after TD
One other aspect of this game I was keeping an eye on was the point-after touchdown rule. As a reminder, teams no longer are kicking extra points. This means they can either run an offensive play from the 2, 5, or 10-yard line, worth 1, 2, or 3 points respectively. Both of the Guardian’s first half touchdowns were followed by 1 point conversions by running back Tim Cook. The second one impressed me the most as he absorbed a hit and flipped over the line of scrimmage to extend his team’s lead to 14-0.
The 3rd Quarter featured both teams struggling to score, as the only score came from a Franks 23 yard field goal. Many were questioning why Tampa settled for 3 points when they could have had the chance for up to 9 points. However it was progress for a team that couldn’t buy a score in the second half. A huge shoutout to New York’s defense for an impressive goal line stand and they nearly came away with another end zone interception.
Following a Guardians punt to start the fourth quarter, Vipers TE Nick Truesdell caught a pass over the middle, but then the ball got punched out. CB Jamar Summers then scooped the ball up and took it 14 yards for a defensive score to blow the game open. Their third point-after conversion of the day failed and the score stayed at 23-3.
The Guardians defense stood tall once again and stopped the Vipers on 4th down at the 6 yard line but the Vipers defense forced another punt, allowing their offense to have one more chance to score and make the score more respectable. In stepped backup QB Quinton Flowers to try and give Tampa a spark but New York’s defense put a brick wall between the Vipers and the end zone. Backup Quinton Flowers took over on the final drive and drove his team to 2 yard line, but was sacked for a 15 yard loss, officially putting the game on ice.
Defense Looked Strong All Game
New York’s defense was the Guardian’s best unit all day and simply was more physical than the Vipers offense. It is demoralizing for an opposing offense to be denied over and over again inside the 20 yard line and to hold a team 3 points in your league debut makes a statement to every one of their future opponents. They allowed a passing completion percentage of 47% between both starting QB’s. Flowers did give them a bit of trouble at times with his legs, as he rushed for 34 yards on 5 rushes, but they didn’t allow any back breaking plays that could have changed the complexion of the game.
On the other side of the ball, Matt McGloin finished with 182 yards through the air and unlike his counterpart, didn’t turn the ball over. What needs to improve next week is scoring more consistently, especially in the 2nd half. Mekale McKay led all pass catchers with 58 yards but only had 3 catches on 4 targets. I also hope to see better results from the running game, which only accounted for 44 yards. Hopefully with more game experience those numbers will go up throughout the season.
The Guardians will head to Audi Field in Washington, DC to face the DC Defenders (1-0) next Saturday at 2 pm.
By: Whitney Dowds CruelFan.com