In one of the most anticipated games of the XFL season, Globe Life Park played host to the first in-state rivalry game of the season. The Dallas Renegades and the Houston Roughnecks proved to the fans that the game was as exciting as it was anticipated. It featured turnovers, exciting plays, a key injury, and an ending worth seeing twice.
Houston came out of the gates strong, but not as much on offense. The Roughnecks defense was the real story in the first quarter as Renegades quarterback Landry Jones had a forgetful quarter. Jones threw three interceptions in the first three drives of the game. The amazing part of this was the performance of the Dallas defense and how they kept the Renegades in the game. PJ Walker struggled as he started 1-5 in the game as the team only scored six points off those turnovers. The Renegades were happy to be just down by six heading into the second quarter.
After the third interception of the game, Walker picked up his performance and found Nick Holley for a six-yard touchdown and converted on a three-point play with a Walker run. With Houston up 15-0, Dallas took advantage of a bad Sergio Castillo kickoff and Jones hit Donald Parham on a 12-yard score. The play has been discussed as Parham lost the ball around the goal line, but wasn’t reviewed after the score. Parham answered with a catch for two points to make the game 15-8. Dallas would close the half with an Austin MacGinnis 46 yard field goal with the Renegades only down by four.
Walker carried the team down the field mid-third quarter to finish with a 19-yard score to Blake Jackson to make it a ten-point lead for Houston. Dallas responds right away with a one-yard score by Lance Dunbar. The two teams became the first teams in XFL history to convert three-point conversions as Dallas made it 21-20.
Dallas shutdown Walker and forced a quick three and out to start the fourth quarter. Jones would turn the ball over for the fourth time as he fumbles on the sack recovered by Edmond Robinson. Robinson would take the ball and return it for a 16-yard score. Houston increased its lead to 27-20 and gained momentum. Both defenses played stellar until Dallas’s last offensive drive where Jones leads the offense down the field. Everything changed during the final offensive drive for the Renegades.
Jones sneaked the ball in on fourth down to move the chains but was injured on the play. He appeared to injure the same knee and was knocked out of the game. Backup quarterback Philip Nelson picked up from where Jones left off and got the team down to the Houston three. Flynn Nagel bobbled a Nelson pass as Houston linebacker DeMarquis Gates caught the ball out of the air. Ryheem Malone caught two critical third-down passes from Walker to seal the game for Houston as they won 27-20.
Final Game Analysis
PJ Walker was brought down to earth as he had a season-low 61 percent completion percentage. Walker still dominated despite the Dallas defense containing him well and made impactful passes to lead Houston. Star receiver Cam Phillips was also shutdown to one catch for nine yards. Nick Holley stepped up with eight catches for 97 yards and a score in the win. The Houston defense shutdown the Dallas running game in the second half and created five turnovers in the big road win.
The Renegades have to be concerned about the Jones injury moving forward. His timetable to return is about two weeks as he did injure the same knee he did in training camp. Nelson protects the ball better than Jones and the game plan could change with less deep passes called. Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar will play a bigger role the rest of the season. Dallas’ defense continues to keep the team in games. They contained Walker better than any team this season and if the defense can create more turnovers, it could help Dallas win some games down the stretch.
- PJ Walker (Passing): 25-41, 239 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
- James Butler (Rushing): 11 carries, 39 yards
- Nick Holley (Receiving): eight catches, 97 yards, one touchdown
- Landry Jones (Passing): 25-38, 205 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions
- Lance Dunbar (Rushing): nine carries, 48 yards, one touchdown
- Flynn Nagel (Receiving): six catches, 76 yards
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