XFL Week 1 Scores, Results: DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks Earn Top Scores, Hines Ward’s Brahmas Fizzes

Week 1 of the 2023 XFL season is in the books, and it was quite an entertaining weekend of football, with three of the four games going to completion.

On Sunday, the St. Louis Battlehawks and San Antonio Brahmas gave us an early contender for Game of the Year as AJ McCarron shrugged off his early struggles and scored 15 straight points in the 1:30 finals to defeat the Brahmas 18-15 . He met Austin Proehl for the successful three-point conversion after the first touchdown and then went straight back to Proehl for the fourth and 15 conversion – which is the XFL version of an onside kick. Five games later, McCarron hit Proehl for the game-winning 13-yard touchdown. It was absolutely amazing.

Wrapping up the first week on Sunday night, we saw another comeback in the second half as the DC Defenders scored 14 straight points to drown Ben DiNucci and the Seattle Sea Dragons 22-18. Gregg Williams’ defense was on a different level this second half, forcing a fumble at the goal line just seconds from time in what could have been a Sea Dragons win. Additionally, defenders may have the best home field field advantage in the entire XFL.

On Saturday, the Arlington Renegades started the XFL season with a wild comeback, capitalizing on a 19-6 run in the second half to defeat Luis Perez and the Vegas Vipers. Later, the Houston Roughnecks showed they could be the preseason favorite with a dominant 33-12 win over the Orlando Guardians.

Here are our grades for each team (see our XFL page for much more including schedule and results, leaderboards and rosters.


DC Defenders 22-18 over Seattle Sea Dragons

CSeattle Sea Dragons
Some believed Ben DiNucci was created to lead one of the best offenses in the XFL. With Josh Gordon at wide receiver, how could you not be intrigued? Seattle got off to a hot start Sunday night with an 11-play touchdown drive and 71 yards on the first possession and a field goal on the second. However, the Sea Dragons fizzled out during the half. The same thing happened in the second half, only on a much larger scale. The Sea Dragons put together an eight-play, 56-yard touchdown drive on their first possession in the third quarter, but then their drive chart looked like this: Pick Six. Three and out. INT. Three and out. sales down. Fumble. That fumble happened inside the DC 5-yard line when DiNucci lost possession while the game was in balance. Seattle’s offensive line struggled with all the pressure being put on the QB, and then the running game picked up just 51 yards on 17 carries. It’s difficult to gauge the Sea Dragons properly given this was the first game of the season and they found themselves in a rough environment, but a second-half meltdown always hurts. At least they weren’t the Brahmas.
A-DC defenders
For the Defenders, it was a two-part story. Initially it looked like they would be blown out, but this DC defense stood in the second half with three forced turnovers – including the forced fumble on the goal-line stand with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. It was just one game, but the defensemen may need to reevaluate their quarterback situation. Jordan Ta’amu wasn’t very good as he completed 8 of 19 passes for 86 yards and one interception. He’s a better passer than the twice as dangerous D’Eriq King, but DC seem like a team looking to keep the ball rolling. Expect both signal callers to play forward. What really stood out about the Defenders were their fans. They were poised to break the world record for longest beer line, and when stadium security halted their progress, the rowdy group threw lemons onto the field, forcing play to be halted. Tapping shirtless beers at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night, that’s what the XFL is all about.

Sea Dragons Defenders sheet music by Jordan Dajani

St Louis BattleHawks 18-15 over San Antonio Brahmas

B+St Louis Battlehawks
For much of Sunday’s opener, the BattleHawks were headed for a hearty “D+”. Aside from linebacker Travis Feeney, who nearly scored on his own strip sack recovery, St. Louis looked lifeless through the fourth quarter. But then AJ McCarron and Austin Proehl served up NFL-caliber theatrics when it mattered: the former was spot-on, hitting Austin Proehl repeatedly on narrow window and sideline shots to close a 12-point deficit with three minutes remaining. Brian Hill’s powerful burst on the ground also helped, and trainer Anthony Becht sealed the deal with critical crunch-time decisions like a draw within three. Consider that they also only allowed 15 points and this was an unusual but encouraging start for the renewed franchise.
CSan Antonio Brahmas
Hines Ward’s side were content to play ugly old school football and for a while it worked. Despite poor offensive performance from quarterback Jack Coan and company, with Kalen Ballage, a consistent but unspectacular ball carrier from the former Dolphins, San Antonio’s “D” kept the Battlehawks under wraps for about 57 of the game’s 60 minutes. Then everything fell apart. The Brahmas secondary just couldn’t find the ball on the final drives, even in close cover, and worse, Coan’s side of the ball under-did it too late, building an lead thanks to a nice TD catch from Fred Brown, could However, this does not control the ball and the clock in the waning minutes. They certainly have a defensive foundation to build on, but the collapse will hurt for a while.

BattleHawks Brahmas Sheet Music by Cody Benjamin


Las Vegas Renegades 22-20 over Las Vegas Vipers

CVipers of Las Vegas
A promising start for the Vipers turned into a disaster. Quarterback Luis Perez was red hot early in the game, going 8-for-9 on the first drive with a touchdown and later throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Badert to give the Vipers a 14-3 lead at halftime . Vegas would have driven to this win if Perez and the offense hadn’t imploded. Two giveaways on back-to-back games in the third quarter resulted in 10 points by the Renegades to get Arlington back in the game. Those who followed with a missed block on a punt attempt resulted in a special teams miscue, followed by Perez throwing an interception for De’Vante Bausby that was returned for a touchdown. Four second-half errors resulted in 20 points for Arlington, who didn’t have an offensive touchdown in the game. Vegas has legitimate defense, but offense literally gave the game away after a great start. If the offense has more than 14 yards in the second half before the final haste drive, the Vipers are 1-0.
B-Arlington Renegades
The Renegades returned to this football game the hard way, scoring two defensive touchdowns in the second half to recover from a 14-3 first-half deficit that left the offense unable to get anything going. Quarterback Drew Plitt wasn’t good, but his one flaw cost his team nothing, unlike the two interceptions that Luis Perez threw. Plitt remained steady in the second half, even if his team failed to get an offensive touchdown. Defense held Vegas to just 57 yards in the second half and scored 14 points, the reason Arlington went 1-0 from the opener. The Renegades just didn’t make as many mistakes as Vegas and they were able to field a strong defense that struggled early to walk away with a win. TJ Barnes had stolen the sack from Luis Perez on a two-point conversion attempt with eight seconds left to salvage the win, just one of many clutch plays by the Arlington defense. Based on the second half of the opener, Renegades’ defense will be an issue in 2023.

Renegades Vipers sheet music by Jeff Kerr

Houston Roughnecks 33-12 over Orlando Guardians

AHouston bullies
It’s hard to have a better debut than Roughnecks coach Wade Phillips’ team on Saturday night. After giving up a touchdown in the opening game, Houston scored 33 of the game’s last 39 points. Big plays on both sides of the ball led to the Roughnecks’ season-opening win. Houston’s biggest star on offense was former Eagles wideout Deontay Burnett, who caught eight passes for 90 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown catch that put the roughnecks in the lead for good. Defensively, the Roughnecks robbed the Guardians with seven sacks and three interceptions. Trent Harris, who started in multiple games for the Giants from 2019-21, led with four sacks. Incidentally, Houston didn’t lose in the XFL, being the only perfect 5-0 team before the 2020 season was called off.
DOrlando Guardians
Orlando’s defensive efforts in the second half are the only reason the Guardians didn’t get an F. The Guardians offense failed to pay off as their defense received two interceptions in the third quarter. However, give coach Terrell Buckley credit for benching former NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch after his pick late in the third quarter. His backup, Quinten Dormady, threw a touchdown pass, but it was too little too late. Lynch’s poor play, subpar pass protection off the offensive line, allowing big plays, but his defense and lack of commitment to the game in progress were among Orlando’s biggest mistakes Saturday night. However, they received several strong individual performances, notably from defenseman Jacoby Jones (two sacks) and wideout Andrew Jamiel (three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown).

Roughnecks Guardians sheet music by Bryan DeArdo

You can relive all the action from Week 1 on our live blog below: