Two of the XFL’s best teams took the field Sunday, but neither was considered a big favorite after a Week 3 schedule that shook up the league standings. First up were the Houston Roughnecks, who looked to remain the XFL’s lone undefeated team in a road matchup with the Dallas Renegades and then did so, capitalizing off five Renegades turnovers to win by seven. Then, to close out Sunday’s slate, the once-vaunted DC Defenders got a crack at redemption in a showdown with Marc Trestman’s Tampa Bay Vipers and totally failed, falling victim to the Vipers’ rejuvenated offense in a 25-0 beat-down. It was the second-straight blowout loss for DC, after opening the season with two blowout wins.
Whether you’ve been locked in since the league’s inception or are just dipping your toe into the water now, CBS Sports’ XFL coverage is here for you. For a closer look at Saturday’s action, when the New York Guardians and St. Louis BattleHawks came away with victories, click here.
XFL scores, Week 4
Saturday, Feb. 29
New York Guardians 17, Los Angeles Wildcats 14
St. Louis BattleHawks 23, Seattle Dragons 16
Sunday, March 1
Houston Roughnecks 27, Dallas Renegades 20
Tampa Bay Vipers 25, DC Defenders 0
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And that’s it from Raymond James Stadium. The Vipers get their first win of the year by trouncing the Defenders, 25-0. The score may look shocking, but not to anyone who watched this from start to finish. Tampa was hungry from the get-go, and DC looked unprepared for the second week in a row. Lots of turmoil to be solved back in the nation’s capital. The Vipers, meanwhile, look totally rejuvenated on offense, where QB Taylor Cornelius has really settled in. Stay tuned here at CBS Sports for much more, including some in-depth takeaways from Week 4 in the XFL!
Tyree Jackson in at QB for the Defenders, which is the unofficial signal that this one’s over. Tampa Bay has dominated from start to finish, and they deserve all the credit they’ll get for this blowout. Defenders have a lot of self-evaluation to do.
Fresh numbers from our editor, Brett Anderson: DC won its first two games a combined 58-19, and if this holds, they’ll have lost their next two a combined 64-9. Incredible and, if you’re a Defenders fan, sad. Cardale Jones has been all over the place. So has his protection. The play-calling is uninspired. The defense looks disinterested. Gross football from our former No. 1 team.
Andrew Franks connects on a 26-yard FG, and the Vipers now lead the Defenders 25-0. That’s right. 25-0. DC has just over 10 minutes to try to salvage some pride before heading home for Week 5. They’ve had probably the worst two-week stretch of any team this year, including Tampa Bay, which opened the season 0-3.
What a heck of a catch by Tampa’s Colin Thompson, flying in from out of nowhere to scoop up a bobbled ball by his teammate. Everything has gone the Vipers’ way at home tonight. They continue to eat up clock with a 22-point lead. DC is dead.
Fourth quarter time in Tampa, and it’s been more of the same from both sides: Energetic, run-based efficiency from the Vipers; defeated dysfunction from DC. The Defenders trail by 22 with 15 minutes to go, but that deficit might grow pretty soon. Taylor Cornelius has been comfortable all night, and he’s got no reason to be worried operating Tampa’s offense over the final stretch. Vipers rolling their way to what would be their first victory of the 2020 season.
Amped up after the pick, the Vipers shove it right back down the Defenders’ throats and probably put the nail in the coffin, with Taylor Cornelius rolling right and then rolling into the end zone untouched on a 17-yard TD scramble on third-and-4. Defenders look lost and listless. Raymond James Stadium is fired up, and rightfully so. Vipers now lead 22-0.
The Vipers may have had a chance to put a dagger in DC with the third quarter winding down, with Taylor Cornelius operating another efficient push toward Defender territory. A 22-yard pass. Then a 13-yarder. But then Cornelius got risky and tossed a deep one toward the end zone, and S Rahim Moore easily got underneath it for the pick. Fortunately for Tampa, this has not been DC’s night, and that continued to be the case on the Defenders’ ensuing series, with Cardale Jones getting hit on a deep shot to Rashad Ross just a few plays later, and Tampa CB Tavarus McFadden winning the jump ball to give the Vipers possession.
Andrew Franks is no good from 31, so Tampa Bay’s lead stays at 16. Still, the longer the Defenders wait around to kick it into high gear, the less likely they’ll have an actual shot at a comeback. Vipers are good on the ground, and their QB is, too. Tampa can burn clock if it wants to later in this game.
Yes, the Defenders are playing their second road game in as many weeks, traveling to the West Coast and then all the way back, to Florida, for tonight’s contest. But there’s no question which team has more energy, more fight tonight, and it’s not them. Halftime at Raymond James Stadium, and the Vipers lead this one 16-0 despite coming in as 4.5-point underdogs. If DC wants a chance in the second half, it better have some serious interventions in the locker room during the break. Get the QB and the O-line on the same page, for a start.
Third-and-15 with halftime approaching, and Cardale Jones lofts a deep one to Eli Rogers, who gets sandwiched in between three defenders and can’t come down with the ball. Not a bad pass, but the fact Jones and Co. were in that situation to begin with is indicative of how poorly they’ve performed. DC is frustrated, and you can see it. This is a carryover from last week, and it looks ugly. Vipers have to be extremely proud to have a two-score lead right now, capitalizing off the Defenders’ lackadaisical, undisciplined start.
A benefit of the transparency on these XFL broadcasts, specifically tonight’s: It’s apparent QB Cardale Jones and his left tackle, De’Ondre Wesley, are not on the same page. Jones could be heard earlier telling teammates to tell Wesley to block his blind side better, and Wesley is now apparently none too pleased with Jones’ cadence/volume when snapping the ball. A peek into some of the dysfunction on this sloppy DC offense.
DC gets flagged for too many men on the field during a Tampa field goal try — the second time the Defenders have been called for that infraction tonight. Then Austin Franks knocks a 40-yarder through the uprights. The Vipers officially lead their visitors 16-0 now. Talk about defying expectations for the home crowd!
The Vipers offense is clicking so well right now. The balance is there. The efficiency is there. They look like a totally different team than the first two weeks of the year, which probably speaks volumes about the play-calling switch on the sidelines. Taylor Cornelius just looks especially comfortable tonight. Completing almost 70 percent of his throws and moving his group up and down the field.
“Oh … my gosh,” says Pep Hamilton on ESPN’s replay of the FG block. Pretty much sums up the DC Defenders of the last two weeks. We were all convinced this team was the one to beat after the opening two weeks of the season, but the recent returns have not been promising. The defense could stand to tighten up, that’s for sure, but the offense has probably been even more disappointing, at least considering how well Cardale Jones started the year. Have to get him back in a rhythm to open up the deep-ball game.
Cardale Jones floats a near-perfect pass to Malachi Dupre on a third-and-8, and Dupre just barely misses getting his foot down in the end zone before going out of bounds. So DC has to settle for a FG try, down 13 with just over eight minutes until halftime. Ty Rausa misses the kick from 43 yards, however, and even after a Pep Hamilton timeout gives him a second try, the attempt is blocked. Everything is going the Vipers’ way this evening. Tampa now gets another shot at points with good field position.
Vipers totally owning this first half in Tampa. Totally. DC has 12 net yards thus far, which is unacceptable, and Taylor Cornelius just wrapped a 14-play drive with a TD pass to DeAndre Goolsby. It’s now 13-0, and it feels like more. Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith have already combined for 81 yards on the ground, whereas the Defenders can’t seem to figure out anything offensively. Looks as if DC is carrying its Week 3 performance into tonight’s contest, which only means good things for Marc Trestman’s squad.
Beautiful opening drive from the Vipers, who are hosting DC. Offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo dials up a diverse attack in front of a pumped Tampa crowd, and he gets a 10-play TD drive to put the home team up 7-0. Taylor Cornelius, who begins what might be another QB rotation under center, goes 3 for 4 for 75 yards, while RB Jacques Patrick picks up 25 yards on three carries, including a bruising eight-yard score to cap the drive. Pressure is on Cardale Jones and Co. to respond.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official. The Houston Roughnecks are still undefeated. P.J. Walker shines again, and June Jones’ squad takes advantage of five different turnovers by the Dallas Renegades, who lose QB Landry Jones to a knee injury late in the fourth. The final from Dallas: Roughnecks 27, Renegades 20. Houston moves to 4-0, and Dallas falls to 2-2. On to the next game of the night: DC Defenders at Tampa Bay Vipers, a chance for Pep Hamilton and Co. to rebound from Week 3’s upset.
P.J. Walker stands in the pocket, sees pressure off the edge coming in from Dallas’ secondary, and still delivers a perfect third-down pass for a new set of downs. Houston’s going to control this clock to the finish line. What a game here in Texas. The Renegades had so many crucial defensive stands but also coughed up possession way too much. Roughnecks on their way to 4-0.
My goodness. Philip Nelson hits Flynn Nagel on a second-and-goal screen, perfectly designed, but Nagel bobbles the pass, and somehow it pops into the hands of a Roughnecks defender. Wow. Huge, huge turnover, and it’s Houston’s fifth takeaway of the night.
Nelson officially in at QB for the Renegades after Landry Jones is helped off, hobbling, by the trainers. Dallas trying to take its first lead of the day, down seven with just a few minutes to go. Houston aids them with a couple of penalties.