The Seattle Dragons and Houston Roughnecks put on a show during the first XFL Week 5 game Saturday as both teams made big plays. Unfortunately for the league, the game ended on a sour note, and the second game wasn’t peachy either.
That’s pretty much standard fare for the rebooted XFL, which is struggling to keep viewers engaged more than halfway through its first campaign.
These were the biggest studs and duds from Saturday’s Week 5 action.
Stud: Cam Phillips, wide receiver, Houston Roughnecks
Not for the first time this season, Cam Phillips finds himself leading the “studs” portion of this list. The electric wide receiver had a monster game for the Roughnecks and was the biggest key to their comeback win.
This former undrafted free agent and Buffalo Bills practice-squad player has emerged as the most reliable, most explosive skill-position player in the XFL. On Saturday, he lit up the Dragons for 10 catches (on 13 targets) for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Dud: B.J. Daniels, quarterback, Seattle Dragons
Early on, it sure looked like Daniels was going to give the Dragons a chance to win their second game of the year. Coming off a nice performance last weekend, he led Seattle to a couple of early touchdown-scoring drives to go up 14-0 over Houston.
Unfortunately, once the Roughnecks’ offense woke up later on, Daniels was unable to get much going through the air. He completed 14-of-22 passes but managed just 114 yards of passing offense and did not throw a single touchdown. Ultimately, that proved to be a big part of the Dragons’ downfall, despite his two rushing scores.
Stud: Jordan Martin, safety, Seattle Dragons
Coming through with his best game of the season so far, Dragons safety Jordan Martin was all over the place making impact plays. His interception of P.J. Walker in the third quarter was an absolute masterpiece.
Martin also racked up seven solo tackles and broke up two passes, leading an inspired defensive effort that was unfortunately not enough to propel the Dragons to victory over the undefeated Roughnecks.
Dud: Dallas’ offense is a disaster
Former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops hasn’t been able to find much success in the XFL as his Dallas Renegades are struggling on a weekly basis. Particularly on offense, this team is having major issues, whether it’s Landry Jones or Philip Nelson under center. This Saturday, it was Nelson leading the offense as Jones recovers from the knee injury he suffered last weekend.
It didn’t go well.
Nelson led a brutally inefficient passing game, completing 28-of-49 passes for just 210 yards. The run game was no better. All told, the Renegades managed to put just six points on the board with their offense, the other six coming on a kickoff return by Austin Walker. That’s pathetic.
Stud: Colby Pearson, wide receiver, New York Guardians
Talk about a breakout performance. Coming into Saturday’s Week 5 contest against Dallas, Colby Pearson had hauled in 11 passes but managed just 128 yards and one touchdown.
He almost doubled that total in one game, and his 80-yard touchdown romp broke the game open for the Guardians. Check out this incredible job to stay on his feet as Pearson absorbed contact from two Renegades defenders, then bolted to the end zone.
All told, Pearson racked up five catches for 95 yards and that incredible score.
Dud: XFL botched the ending of the Seattle/Houston game
A league that’s desperately striving for long-term credibility cannot afford to make the kind of mistake we saw Saturday. P.J. Walker and the Roughnecks tried to end the game with a kneel-down, but replay showed there was two seconds left on the clock.
The ABC broadcast correctly pointed out that the Seattle offense should have gotten the ball at Houston’s 23-yard line with a chance to score a touchdown and potentially tie the game up with a three-point conversion, down by nine points. The XFL’s representative even confirmed this live on air, and then proceeded to give an asinine excuse for not bringing everyone back onto the field for that final sequence.
Not surprisingly, this botched ending was widely panned by fans and analysts on social media. It’s just a brutally bad look for the XFL, which has seen declines in attendance and television ratings every single week since its inception.
For what it’s worth, the XFL at least issued a statement acknowledging the mistake afterward.