The Tampa Bay Vipers lose a thriller in their home opener as they fall 34-27 to the Houston Roughnecks.
Tampa, FL — In what has arguably been the most exhilarating game of the season, the Vipers lose a thriller and fall just short of securing their first win of the season.
Full disclosure, I’m typing this recap in the press box while watching the Dallas Renegades and Seattle Dragons game – next to Oliver Luck. So if this seems a little sloppy, or off the rails, well that’s because it probably will be.
The Vipers were shorthanded coming into this game as Aaron Murray, Nick Truesdell, Jalen Collins and newly acquired S.J. Green were all inactive. Not an ideal spot when facing the team that’s believed to be the best team in the league.
Offense finally clicks
Taylor Cornelius drew the start for the second straight week and he was much improved in today’s contest. Cornelius went 16/31 passing for 193 yards and two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). However, in the two most critical drives of the game, Cornelius came up short. With under four minutes and down seven, the Vipers drove the ball inside the Roughnecks five yard line. After three pass plays and one run, the Vipers couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. On the last drive, a clear miscommunication between Cornelius and De’Veon Smith led to Cornelius’ lone interception of the game.
While Cornelius started the game, Quinton Flowers entered after the second offensive drive to a eruption of cheers. On the team’s fourth drive, Vipers history was made. Flowers threw an absolute dime to Smith – who held on after getting rocked – to get the Vipers inside the ten yard line.
— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) February 22, 2020
That catch set up the Vipers first offensive touchdown. Flowers then scrambled for a seven yard score.
Quinton Flowers is TAKING OVER this game
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 22, 2020
The XFL dynamic duo
As good as the Vipers offense looked, the Roughnecks offense was just a little bit better. Man, can P.J. Walker ball. The combo of him and wide receiver Cam Phillips is absolutely lethal. Walker continued to make his case for MVP as he went 24/36 for 306 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown. As for Phillips, well he caught all three of Walker’s touchdowns – AGAIN! Two games, SIX touchdowns. Phillips ended the day catching eight of 10 targets for 193 yards.
The Vipers (0-3) host Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders (2-0) Sunday, March 1st. The game will kickoff at 7PM ET at Raymond James Stadium and can be seen on ESPN 2.
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