Week 3 of the XFL season continued this weekend with the Houston Roughnecks taking on the Tampa Bay Vipers at Raymond James Stadium. The Roughnecks entered the game as eight-point favorites with Tampa Bay entering the game without their starting quarterback Aaron Murray. The Vipers were looking to capture their first win while the Roughnecks (2-0) tried to keep their winning streak going after securing last week’s victory against the St. Louis Battlehawks in a game that came all the way down to the final minute.
After Tampa Bay’s offense came out and settled for 48 yard field goal by Andrew Franks to get the first 3 points of the game, their defense stood tall forcing Houston to a 3-and-out on their first drive of the game. Houston scored the first touchdown of the game after scoring on a one-play, 84-yard touchdown pass by PJ Walker to Cam Phillips. Houston would then secure a 3-point conversion as receiver Sam Mobley would catch a dart in the back of the end zone to put the Roughnecks up 9-3.
The second quarter would become a back and forth battle, generating lots of offense from both teams. Backup quarterback and fan-favorite Quinton Flowers would enter the game and run it in 7 yards for Tampa Bay’s first touchdown of the season. The ensuing 1 point conversion would make it a 10-9 game. Houston would answer right back with an 8-yard touchdown rush by PJ Walker making it a 15-10 game like the back and forth continued. After forcing Houston to settle for a 28-yard field goal, Tampa Bay would drive all the way down the field and score on a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Taylor Cornelius in the final second of the first half. A two-point conversion catch by Williams would make it a tie game to end the half at 18-18.
The 3rd quarter would produce more defense as both teams only scored once in the quarter. Houston would score on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Walker to Philips, with a successful 2 point conversion making the score 26-18. The Vipers would bite back with a 20-yard touchdown catch by receiver Dan Williams, drawing them within 2 points of the lead after a failed conversion.
After grabbing a one-point 27-26 lead over the Roughnecks on a 43-yard field goal, the Vipers would give up the lead on a 17-yard pass from Houston’s Walker to Philips giving the game yet another lead change at 34-27 after the 2 point conversion by Nick Holley. Houston would dominate the rest of the game as their defense would come up with an interception with 1:17 left in the game to secure the win.
With this win, Houston moves to 3-0 as they prepare to face the Dallas Renegades next week. PJ Walker solidified his front runner status for XFL MVP with his performance today as he threw for 3 touchdowns and 304 yards and rushed for a score as well. After securing XFL’s Player of the Week for Week 2, Cam Phillips pulled in another 3 touchdowns this week as the Walker/Philips show continues for Houston.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay drops to 0-3. Following the game, Viper HC Marc Trestman discussed the quarterback situation with his team and the decision to keep Cornelius on the field during the final moments of the game as they look prepare for a tough matchup next week against the DC Defenders.