The first game of the XFL featured a blocked punt for a touchdown, an amped-up crowd, and a player dropping an F-Bomb in a live interview.
The DC Defenders defeated the Seattle Dragons in the debut of the new XFL Saturday, by a score of 31 to 19. Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones went 16-of-26 for 291 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
“This is for the love of football,” Jones said, addressing the crowd before kickoff. “Enjoy.”
“For the love of football” has been the slogan of the XFL since its creation. The new rules and television broadcasts showed a drastic difference to former attempts at a spring football league.
Viewers of the broadcast could hear Dragons head coach Jim Zorn and Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton call plays, giving an all-access look inside the world of pre-snap football. Sideline reporters had the opportunity to interview players immediately after they came off the field, a new feature that had some viral moments.
Dragons center Dillon Day was one of the players interviewed after a brief scuffle.
“There was just a lot of chatting after the play,” Day said. “We’re trying to make some stuff happen and they’re doing a little extra pushing and shoving. We’re trying to get our [expletive] job done and they’re just —”
ABC cut Day’s audio after the expletive. But the damage was done, and Twitter exploded.
Moments like these, paired with a high-paced gameplay experience, led to an exciting game that quickly harnessed support for the new league.
Dragons WR Austin Proehl caught five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns, including the first in XFL history. However, two defensive touchdowns for the Defenders sealed the game.
The most electric play of the game was a trick-play touchdown for the Defenders. Down 13-12 at the beginning of the third quarter, Cardale Jones handed the ball off to RB Donnel Pumphrey, who flipped the ball to WR Eli Rogers, who flipped it back to Jones. Jones then connected with TE Khari Lee for a 39-yard touchdown, taking the lead. They never looked back.
Next week, the Defenders take on the New York Guardians, looking to become 2-0. The Dragons look to bounce back against the Tampa Bay Vipers.