Week 5 of the XFL season continued with more great play as teams continue to battle an up-and-down season. After two weeks of embarrassing losses, including a shutout loss to the last place Tampa Bay Vipers, the DC Defenders stunned the Saint Louis BattleHawks to take the lead in the East division. Meanwhile in the West, the Houston Roughnecks continued their dominance, with a win over Seattle to improve to 5-0.
Confusion In Houston
While Houston quarterback PJ Walker thrilled hometown crowds in a come-from-behind victory over a strong Seattle defense, the win was marred by the league’s first referee controversy. After scoring three consecutive touchdowns in the second half to overcome a 9 point deficit, the Roughnecks held the ball on their own 26 yard line.
After scoring a single first down, Walker took a knee four times to close out the game. However at the end of the fourth down play, 3 seconds remained left on the game clock. The on-field referee crew ruled the game over and ran off the field to the confusion of the Dragons’ players and staff. While statistically unlikely to succeed, Seattle deserved the chance to score, as a TD and a three point attempt would have sent the game to overtime.
Shortly after the game, the XFL released the following statement on social media.
While the result was unfortunate particularly for Seattle fans, management did the right thing, apologizing for the error of their officials, and reassigning the officiating supervisor of the game. The XFL again demonstrates transparency and handled the situation as well as possible. I can’t help but compare this to the deafening silence from Roger Goodell’s office following the blunders of NFL refs in the post season earlier this year.
Fans of the DC Defenders had much to celebrate this weekend as they watched backup QB Tyree Jackson lead his squad to a much needed victory in Audi Field over Saint Louis. The win brought hope to Defenders fans who had witnessed their team struggle to find offensive success since Week 2.
It was the hometown stands that drew comments on Twitter as one of the largest beer cup snakes ever seen, this one encompassing 1,237 cups, became a sensation for fans around the country. The magnificent serpent trailed up almost 40 rows of seats where its tail met the Jumbotron.
Even XFL Commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck offered a sacrificial beer cup to the crowd, drawing cheers and a chant of MVP. With another home game coming up for the Defenders, we will see how the crowd can outdo itself this weekend when DC hosts the the Dallas Renegades.
Fan of the Week
It was a great week for Defenders fans and my pick for fans of the week goes to two men decked out in red suits, masks, sombreros and maracas to liven up the crowd.
Week 5 brought the smallest crowds of the season, with the Wildcats continuing to scrape the bottom with a record low attendance of 12,181. Between the paltry crowd in Carson and the Dragons and BattleHawks playing on the road, the XFL posted their lowest overall attendance to date with only 64,246 fans in attendance last weekend.
|Host Team||Stadium||Attendance||% Change|
|Houston Roughnecks||TDECU Stadium||19,773||15.6|
|Dallas Renegades||Globe Life Park||15,950||13.0|
|DC Defenders||Audi Field||16,342||8.7|
|Los Angeles Wildcats||Dignity Health Sports Park||12,181||0.3|
|League Total||% Change|
Unfortunately, it is almost certain the XFL’s attendance slide will become exponentially worse. A slew of cancellations and fan restrictions hit the sports world this week, beginning with the Ivy League cancelling its men’s basketball tournament and the NCAA announcing March Madness™ will be played with only essential personnel and limited family in attendance. The alarming announcements from various sports leagues began cascading into chaos today as the XFL announced the Seattle Dragons will play the Wildcats without fans in CenturyLink Field.
This announcement was far from the most alarming though, quickly eclipsed by the National Basketball League suspending its season until further notice. As the situation continues to unfold we will surely get some insight from the XFL as to the future of the 2020 season. Until then, we can expect at least a 30-40% decline in attendance this coming weekend as the league’s second largest market will be eerily absent.