LOST AT SEA: Roughnecks suffer first franchise loss in Seattle 21-14 as late rally fizzles

Feb 26, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Roughnecks defensive back Sean Davis (23) breaks the tackle of Arlington Renegades lineman Garrett McGhin (55) tackle after intercepting the ball in the fourth quarter at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

LOST AT SEA: Roughnecks suffer first franchise loss in Seattle 21-14 as late rally fizzles

The defense could not overcome the offense’s failures in Week 5.

Eventually, this day was going to come. There would be a day when the Houston Roughnecks would lose. It was the manner in which they lost that brings the frustration.

The offense was mostly incompetent, and the defense couldn’t make up for their shortcomings in Houston’s 21-14 loss to the Sea Dragons in Seattle.

Playing without the top pass rusher in the XFL in Trent Harris (he was a game day inactive for undisclosed reasons), the Roughnecks’ defense failed to generate its trademark pressure for most of the game. Despite that, they still forced four turnovers, including two interceptions in their own end zone to thwart Seattle drives. It still wasn’t enough on this night.

Brandon Silvers struggled all game. He misfired on open receivers downfield, overthrowing them. Off-target throws that were caught did not allow receivers to gain yardage after the catch. He often checked down to tightly covered receivers who had no chance to gain more yardage. He had four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Silvers finished 25-for-47 for only 227 yards (74 of which came on a very late touchdown drive with under 2 minutes to go), one touchdown, one interception, and a lost fumble.

Seattle was the more physical, more energetic team from the first snap. They played tight man coverage, and Silvers’ arm wasn’t strong enough to get the ball in tight windows, nor was he accurate enough to thread needles when needed. He was behind receivers often in this game, even hitting a defender in the back with a pass late in the game during a failed rally.

Houston was not up to the task on special teams either. Twice, Seattle was able to get to punter Race Porter. One time a partially blocked punt would only go 16 yards; a second complete block would give Seattle the ball at the Houston 9.

The Roughnecks, shut out in the first half for the first time this season, would try to rally in the fourth quarter. Seattle would lose their left tackle to injury in the quarter and had to replace him with a backup guard. Houston took advantage of this, generating two sacks with their trademark pressure, leading to two turnovers.

The first of those two fourth-quarter turnovers forced by Houston’s defense led to a short-field touchdown. The second one, however, would be fruitless as the Roughnecks turned the ball over on downs at their own 38, as Silvers badly missed Brycen Alleyne on a fourth-and-4. Houston also committed a penalty on the play, so even a conversion would have been nullified, and they would have faced fourth-and-long.

Seattle took advantage of the short field and scored their third touchdown of the game to extend the lead to 21-6 with just 1:22 remaining. The game got interesting for the first time at this point.

The Roughnecks responded with an 8-play, 74-yard drive in just 58 seconds. It was their longest drive of the game, capped off by a 47-yard catch-and-run by Justin Smith for a touchdown. Houston converted the 2-point conversion successfully to cut the deficit to 21-14.

Houston then took advantage of the XFL’s fourth-quarter comeback rules by electing to go for the fourth-and-15 scenario in lieu of the onside kick and was successful at converting it.

Getting the ball at their own 42, Seattle was called for defensive pass interference. This set up Houston with a first down at the Seattle 27. Head coach Wade Phillips could be heard on the hot mic saying they would go for two after the touchdown, playing to win rather than to tie. It wouldn’t matter.

On the next play, Silvers had the ball knocked out of his hands from behind. The ball floated into the waiting arms of DL Niko Lalos for an interception. Houston challenged the play asserting that a defender had committed a hands-to-the-face foul on their left tackle. Upon review, the challenge failed. Seattle took over with 4 seconds remaining, and the rally was officially dead.

With the loss, Houston fell to 4-1 on the season. Seattle improved to 3-2.

Houston’s next game is Monday, March 27, at 6 p.m. CT on the road against the currently undefeated D.C. Defenders.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *