WASHINGTON — The XFL’s inaugural game started strong for the Dragons as they took a four-point second-quarter lead over the DC Defenders on Saturday morning. The Defenders wore down Seattle’s defense in the second half and won 31-19.
Dragons coach Jim Zorn admitted he didn’t know what to expect entering the game, and he and his players learned about the XFL’s rules and its fans. Here’s how the Dragons and XFL looked in the first game.
Teams want to be efficient with their PATs
The XFL forbids kicking plays on extra points. Teams have the option of running a play from the 2-, 5- or 10-yard line worth one, two or three points, respectively. But if Saturday is telling of how teams will manage those situations this season, many squads will line up on the 2-yard line and try for one point.
Only once Saturday did a team try a PAT worth more than a point. The Defenders went for two points in the second quarter and failed. If the Dragons had scored late in the game, Zorn said his team would’ve went for three points to try to bring the game within a field goal.
Fanfare is strong
The XFL first launched in 2001 but shut down after a season due to poor attendance and TV ratings. That didn’t seem to be the case Saturday.
A crowd of 17,163 filled the bleachers in Audi Field, which has a capacity of 20,000. On TV, ESPN reporters performed exclusive interviews with players and coaches. Zorn was also mic’d up, and some of his play calls were broadcast.
An example of the moments that can create came in the second quarter when Dragons center Dillon Day swore to an ESPN reporter while walking off the field.
Austin Proehl may be the Dragons’ top receiver
Wide receiver Austin Proehl made history in the first quarter, catching a 14-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Silvers for the XFL’s first touchdown. The last time Proehl caught a touchdown pass was 2017 when he played at North Carolina.
Over the past year, Proehl jumped around on NFL practice squads but never settled with a team. He seems to fit in with Seattle, catching another touchdown from Silvers in the third quarter from 57 yards out.