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Guardians blow out Vipers in Sunday opener

The Vipers didn’t look like team most thought they would be on offense and were blown out by the Guardians

New York Guardians running back Tim Cook III dives into the end zone to complete a one point attempt against the Tampa Bay Vipers on February 9, 2020 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Rob Tringali/XFL

Sunday’s XFL game between the Tampa Bay Vipers and New York Guardians didn’t turn out how many expected. The visiting Vipers entered the contest as 3-point favorites but were handed a 23-3 loss. We saw the first ejection of the season happen when Vipers defensive tackle Ricky Walker punched an opposing player’s helmet in a scuffle, and we saw the second blowout of the young season.

Tampa Bay couldn’t get going, but New York could use some work as well. Here’s what we took away from the game.

Quarterback play was subpar all around

New York won big, but Matt McGloin didn’t stand out like most thought he would under center. Even though he broke the seal by scoring the game’s first touchdown with his legs and threw for a touchdown, he wasn’t very efficient. He only completed 52% of his passes and finished with 182 yards through the air, and the Vipers’ Aaron Murray wasn’t so hot either. Murray surpassed McGloin in passing yards (231) and connected on 47% of his throws. He also threw two interceptions and was sporadically replaced by backup quarterback Quinton Flowers to give Tampa Bay some momentum. Every other XFL game we’ve seen had at least one quarterback throw for multiple touchdowns.

Tampa Bay needs serious help on offense

The Vipers were expected to have one of the XFL’s more explosive offenses under Marc Trestman. They instead opened the year as the league’s lowest scoring team and struggled to cap off red zone opportunities with scores. Tampa Bay was missing its top receiver Antonio Callaway, who is lost for the season with a lower leg injury. The Vipers will need to find some kind of replacement that can open open space on the field. We can’t make that call now though, and Tampa Bay will dig itself into a deep hole if it doesn’t tighten up soon.

Not every game will be a shootout

The over/unders for XFL games have hovered around 50 in Week 1, and this matchup didn’t come close to touching that. The Vipers and Guardians combined for 26 points, which is just half of the 52 they were expected to put up. This might’ve just been a fluke, but total point predictions should shift as the year goes on and more games are played. We’ll figure out whether defenses will remain porous or improve over time soon enough.