The XFL is back in the Pacific Northwest after a three-year hiatus, and the Seattle Sea Dragons opened up Lumen Field for more professional football.
The Sea Dragons came home to play in front of their own fans Feb. 23 and gain some Seattle support. A decent crowd came out in the below freezing temperatures to watch their home team take on the St. Louis Battlehawks. This came after a brutal last second fumble in their opening game of the season Feb. 19 on the road at Washington, D.C., losing 22-18.
“For a Thursday crowd, it was a great atmosphere. It was pretty cool to get up here and play in front of our home crowd…We’re gonna need them here the rest of the year,” said quarterback Ben DiNucci.
With the XFL, there are distinct rule changes that are looking to influence even the NFL level. There is a different setup for kickoffs, the opportunity to go for a three-point attempt after a touchdown, and in the fourth quarter, if a team wants to keep possession, it can attempt to convert a 4th-and-15 play to complete a comeback as opposed to attempting an onside kick.
There are also several players from the state of Washington sprinkled throughout the league. Federal Way native Charlie Taumoepau is the only tight end on the Sea Dragons roster. The St. Louis Battlehawks have two players on their roster from Washington. The team with the most players from Washington state is the San Antonio Brahmas, who have six players from the state on their roster, including Gavin Robertson from Auburn Mountainview High School.
The Sea Dragons are now 0-2 to start their season, with both losses coming on the last play of the game, which is something new for Seattle Head Coach Jim Haslett: “I’ve never lost one game in the last second in my career. Now it’s just doubling up on that.”
In the first half Feb. 23, the Sea Dragons were out to a 12-8 lead, and their defense held the Battlehawks in check. In the first quarter, the Sea Dragons allowed just six yards of rushing offense.
The second half was one to forget for the Sea Dragons. Seattle fumbled the football three times, all in the second half, all three of which were recovered by St. Louis.
Even with the Sea Dragons losing the turnover battle, they were able to score a go-ahead touchdown on fourth down. It took a perfect throw from QB Ben DiNucci to find receiver Jordan Veasy in the back of the endzone for the score, putting Seattle out in front, 18-17.
The Battlehawks were then able to drive down the field with 1:11 left in the game and a single time out. With seven seconds left, St. Louis completed a nine-yard pass, sneaking them into field goal range. As time expired, the Battlehawks kicked the go-ahead field goal, walking off with a win against the Sea Dragons by a score of 20-18.
It’s been a rough start for the Sea Dragons, but DiNucci believes that his team can make a run: “We got eight games left and we’ve got the guys on this team to do it.”
Tickets range from $18-24. Lumen Field isn’t selling tickets for the upper bowl, so there isn’t a bad seat in the house. If the first two games are an insight to the excitement the league can bring, there is no doubt the Sea Dragons will have fans for the weeks to come.