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FSM Essential Recap: Vipers vs Defenders – XFL Week 2

Vegas Vipers (0-2) | D.C. Defenders (2-0)

Franchise Sports Media


Saturday, the XFL was back in Las Vegas at Cashman Field, where the Vegas Vipers hosted the D.C. Defenders at the Snake Pit. The Fang Gang saw the Vipers lose to the Defenders 18-6.

The Vipers vs Defenders played a Week 2 game at Cashman Field. 

Vipers vs Defenders Luis Perez Pre Game
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste

Las Vegas welcomed back the XFL on a soggy Saturday evening as the Vegas Vipers took on the D.C. Defenders at The Snake Pit, better known as Cashman Field. The Fang Gang was out and in full effect (6,023) and was looking to sink their teeth into the Defenders to make sure what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.

We were unsure whether the Vipers would roll out with Luis Perez as their starting quarterback or Brett Hundley, who was signed late and in the process of getting the Vipers‘ playbook verbiage down. Perez started last week and had a great first half, but he was ineffective in the second half and had three costly turnovers that the Arlington Renegades turned into points and, ultimately, the win. Vipers head coach Rod Woodson said it would be an open competition this week, but Perez was atop the depth chart heading into the Week 2 match-up with D.C.

Vegas also had some injury issues heading into Week 2, with Vic Beasley in concussion protocol and listed as a game-time decision. Also listed on the injury report this week was Martavis Bryant, Cinque Sweeting, PJ Dawson, DeAndre Torrey, Destiny Vaeao, and Isaiah Williams. All were expected to play.

The Vipers‘ defense has been the team’s strength early in the XFL season, giving up just six points in Week 1. The unit flew around, pushing the Renegades while playing smart, sound, and tough. They would look to continue that trend in Week 2, and coach Woodson said he hoped that their offense would take that same identity against the Defenders.

It was time for the Vipers vs Defenders to kick off.

First Half

In the first half, the Vipers looked like they had control of the game. 

Vipers vs Defenders Luis Perez
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste

The Vipers again got off to a hot start to kick off the XFL home season. Quarterback Luis Perez got the start for Vegas, but it was apparent that his leash would be short when FX reported that he and Hundley would see playing time. In the Vipers‘ first series, the Fang Gang went three and out, with Perez going 0-3 on the drive.

Las Vegas‘ only touchdown was set up by a strip sack from Pita Taumoepenu. The Vipers recovered Defenders quarterback Jordan Ta’amu’s fumble deep in D.C. territory early in the first quarter, which led to a DeAndre Torre 2-yard touchdown run a play later.  The rest of the first half was a defensive battle or an ineffective offensive showing, depending on how you look at it. The Defenders kicked a field goal to cut the score to 6-3.

Late in the second quarter, Vic Beasley, who was questionable all week due to a concussion, recovered a fumble and took it down inside the Defenders‘ 30, running out of bounds with one second left. But for the second straight week, the Vipers kicker, Bailey Griffin, missed a field goal to end the first half. The Vipers went into halftime leading 6-3, and just like the weather, their play would get worse.

Could the Vipers hold off the Defenders in the second half?

Second Half

Who would win the second half in the Vipers vs Defenders game?

Vipers vs Defenders Vipers offense
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste

After a sloppy first half, the D.C. Defenders cleaned things up in the second half despite sloppy playing conditions at Cashman Field. D.C. quarterbacks Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King and running backs Abram Smith and Ryquell Armstead ran for a combined 231 yards and two touchdowns on 42 carries.

The Defenders, who trailed 6-0 at halftime, took the lead for good on King’s 12-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter. A 26-yard run by Smith on the Defenders‘ ensuing drive set up his own 9-yard touchdown run that put the game on ice. Smith, who ran for over 1,600 yards during his final season at Baylor, led all ballcarriers with 69 yards on 11 carries.

The Vipers received just 98 passing yards from Brett Hundley, a former starter for the Green Bay Packers who replaced Luis Perez during the first quarter. Hundley was victimized by drops from his receivers and poor blocking up front. When Las Vegas did move the ball, they were twice victimized by missed field goals that contributed to the loss. The weather condition and the sloppy field matched the Vipers‘ sloppy play, and it showed on the scoreboard.

If I had that answer, it wouldn’t happen,head coach Rod Woodson said of what has gone wrong after halftime in the first two games. “If my players had that answer, it wouldn’t happen. It’s unfortunate that we play a half of football and then don’t want to play a second half of football.”

The Vipers fell to the Defenders 18-6 to in their regular season home opener.


Some issues are starting to sow their faces for the Vipers.

Brett Hundley did give the offense a spark. While the stats don’t show it, Hundley did a good job passing the ball as well as posing as a rushing threat. He got no help from his receivers, who dropped several balls in the bad weather.

Every position is fluid right now when you haven’t won your first two games,” Woodson told reporters after the game. “Not just the quarterback position. We’re trying to figure out a way to score points on a consistent basis. Whoever can be the leader of the offense, which one can take the helm and show they want to be that guy, that’s the guy who’s going to be out there. Same thing goes for each position.”

The Vipers‘ defense had issues when D’Eriq King entered the game. The Defenders‘ RPO game caused them all kinds of problems. This could become a more significant issue for them against other XFL teams if they don’t fix it quickly.

D’Eriq King is a stud. He was a stud in college, and he looks to be one in the XFL.

The former wide receiver played for the University of Houston, where he converted into a quarterback. In his junior year, he suffered an injury in the eleventh game that cut short his season. Despite that, he recorded 2,982 yards, 36 passing touchdowns, and 14 rushing touchdowns. That was just behind Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins in total touchdowns that year, and he was expected to follow in the footsteps of the Arizona Cardinals quarterback.

That did not quite pan out. King transferred to the University of Miami only to have an injury-filled season hurt his draft process. In 2022, he was part of the practice squad for both the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. The dynamic playmaker in college seems to have gotten healthy and found a home in the XFL, which could be bad news for the rest of the league.

Lastly, there’s been one odd but consistent theme during the brief history of the rebooted XFL. The team that scores first has lost every game. It was the case in each of the league’s four Week 1 games, and it was again the case in the first two games of Week 2. This was also the first game that didn’t hit the over (34.5) since the XFL rebooted.

What we learned in the Vipers vs Defenders game was the Vipers’ defense could only do so much, and the Vipers needed to settle in on a quarterback.

The Vegas Vipers will be back in action next Saturday when they take on the DC Defenders at Cashman Field. Kick-off is at 4 p.m. and can be seen on FX. For tickets, tap in here.



-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on Twitter & Instagram at @JoeArrigoFSM

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