Apr 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Roughnecks defensive back Willam Like (4) celebrates his fumble recovery for a touchdown against the St. Louis Battlehawks in the fourth quarter at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Way too close: Five Takeaways from Houston Roughnecks 17-15 OT win over the San Antonio Brahmas
These are the five things that stood out the most from the Roughnecks’ 17-15 overtime victory over the Brahmas in San Antonio:
The Roughnecks won because the Brahmas offense stinks. Only once has San Antonio scored more than 15 points in a game, and Jack Coan was their fifth different starting quarterback in five weeks. The Brahmas cannot protect the quarterback. Houston’s defense battered and bruised Coan all afternoon, sacking him six times and intercepting him twice. San Antonio head coach Hines Ward was caught on hot mic beside himself that the Roughnecks were getting to Coan even when Brahmas were running quick game plays designed to get the ball out fast. Houston also had a big goal-line stand that forced a field goal in the first quarter. The defense stopped San Antonio on all three of their attempts in overtime as well.
Brandon Silvers has to be the quarterback, regardless of his faults. After a week off due to an elbow injury, Silvers started the game with more zip on his passes. He was making fast, smart decisions, and the offense was moving. As the game progressed, the zip started to slide just a little bit, and the accuracy became hit or miss. He missed a few throws that could have been big gains to receivers who had gotten behind the defense, including one down the sideline that he couldn’t keep in bounds and one over the middle to Justin Smith in the fourth quarter that was overthrown. He also threw an absolutely brutal interception with 3:01 remaining in the fourth to give the Brahmas a late chance at the Houston 36. San Antonio would ultimately tie the game as a result before Houston won in overtime. Regardless of his flaws, he is still the best quarterback on the roster, and they will have to live and die with him. Silvers finished the game 17-for-36 for just 146 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
A week after posting their best rushing effort, the Roughnecks may have posted their worst. Credit to the Brahmas defense, the top-scoring defense in the XFL, but Houston could not get anything going on the ground. After rushing a season-high 25 times for a season-high 136 yards, Houston ran 13 times for 25 yards, and their longest run of the day was seven yards. Houston was completely one-dimensional on offense, and their second touchdown came courtesy of an interception that gave them the ball at the San Antonio 7. The offense is still a mess compared to the high-powered unit they appeared to be in the first four weeks of the season. Silvers’ accuracy and effectiveness have declined significantly since Week 4 (he is coming off an elbow injury), and their ability to run the ball is questionable, as is their commitment to doing so.
Trent Harris may be the Defensive Player of the Year. The league’s leading sack artist was all over Jack Coan in this game. He entered the game with 7.5 sacks, tops in the XFL, despite missing one game due to injury. He came up with several big plays, including a huge sack with under 2 minutes to go. His ability to draw constant double-teams frees his teammates to get one-on-one situations. The pass rush struggled badly in his absence; they are the best pass rush in the XFL when he is on the field. The Roughnecks added a team total six sacks, despite Tim Ward (their second-leading sack artist) missing his third straight game. Harris finished with 1½ sacks and a tackle for loss.
The Roughnecks are in the postseason. With the victory, the Houston Roughnecks have clinched a postseason berth. At 5-3, they are 1.5 games ahead of the 4-4 Arlington Renegades, whom they already have a victory over this season.