Carson, CA – Beating the DC Defenders gave Los Angeles a bit of hope in the XFL. Knowing that the top two teams in each conference make the playoffs, it helps a bit that there is one dominant team in the conference (Houston Roughnecks). Some of that momentum was lost after struggling to find any rhythm against New York, trailing early and not being able to find any footing on offense. Tampa Bay, starting the season 0-3, shut out the DC Defenders, forcing their downward spiral to continue.
At first, it all seemed like the Vipers would force a spiral to the Wildcats after going up 24-6 with a turnover brigade. Throughout the first 15 minutes or so, Tampa Bay looked like they were having all the fun with getting into the endzone on their first three of four possessions, capped off by 15 points off of turnovers. The Wildcats in the mean time managed their own game plan hoisting an unexpected comeback that gave Los Angeles a much needed 41-34 win, putting them back in the talks being relevant in the Western Conference.
“We don’t want to put ourselves in a game like this again,” Tre McBride said. “With that being said, a win is a win, and our goal every week is to put up as many points as possible. We did that tonight, but this tells us as a team we need to do more.”
It was beyond an ugly start for the Wildcats. In their first five possessions, the Wildcats had a very hard time holding onto the ball in all aspects. From an interception on the first play to bad shotgun snaps and muffed punts, the Wildcats looked as if they were ready to hand the game to Tampa Bay.
Josh Johnson though found more than just his receivers and footing. He played practically throughout the rest of the game like a professional, evading sacks and reading just about all of his passes. They closed the first half with 16 unanswered points with touchdown strikes to De’Quan Hampton and Brandon Barnes. Heading into the half down by just four, their defense bailed them out with key stops and a forced turnover. With the Wildcats then scoring on two more possessions from the arm of Johnson, the LA faithful looked as if they were behind this team.
With the way Johnson’s game started out, he finished with everything going his way. He ended the night going 20-for-34 with four touchdowns, all of which was done in the 27-0 run.
“Josh is playing great,” Tre McBride said. “He has never lost confidence in his receivers and it showed in a game like this today. It is important to have that core be dedicated like the way we played today.”
“All in all, we just stuck to the game plan.” Johnson said. “We felt like last week we lost our guidance and missed out on passing tests. This week it was about how we could respond as a team, and to that we responded well.”
Tampa Bay only managed 233 yards after leading big early, with more than two thirds of those yards only surmounting three points and a game ending interception in the endzone.
“We all feed off of each other,” “Our defense did their part to feed the momentum offensively. They did their job, so we ended up doing our job as well to our advantage.”
Los Angeles has put themselves back in relevance, but a crowd of just over 12,000 on a Sunday night raised a bit of concern. While there are no rumors of any type of relocation, they currently hold two of the three lowest attended games this season. This week was also a part of the lowest attended games from the first five weeks, which could put Los Angeles in the conversation of finding out if Carson is the right place for the XFL.
Still, wins are important when building a franchise and to be recognized. The Wildcats arguably earned one of the more impressive ones in the young season by any team. With Seattle next week, they can put a team behind them and chase after the second seed where Dallas lies.