Jacksonville Sports Day

XFL: Previewing Tampa Bay’s Sunday’s Matchup with the Defenders

Following a close loss in the team’s home opener the Tampa Bay Vipers finish off a two-game homestand against Eastern Division rival DC.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Behind Cam Phillips, the Houston Roughnecks beat the Tampa Bay Vipers 34-27 last Saturday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Part of Tampa Bay’s success defensively has come from the team’s ability to keep offenses from converting on third downs.

Tampa Bay’s defense has been on the field for the second-most third down plays in the league (47, trailing only Dallas’ 52) and has held opponents to a conversion rate of just 23.3 percent.

Tampa Bay’s offense has been on the field for third-down tries more than any other team in the league (50) and is converting at a 50 percent clip.

Heading into the game, the Vipers are one of just two teams (STL) to have surpassed 100 yards rushing in all three games this season.

Tampa Bay is averaging 140 yards per game, good for second most in the
league (STL – 157.7). The Vipers remain the only team with two backs in the top five in rushing yards, as running back De’Veon Smith ranks third in the league with 174 while runniung mateJacques Patrick comes in at fifth with 123.

The duo’s 381 yards from scrimmage trails only DC (382), who has utilized a total of four backs this season.

Tampa Bay will be without Quinton Flowers who taking a leave of absence from the Vipers. Coach Marc Trestmen hopes Flowers returns to the team soon, but would not elaborate on the nature of the leave or how long Flowers would be gone

The Defenders were defeated by the Los Angeles Wildcats in a 39-9 loss in its first road game in Carson, Calif.

QB Cardale Jones had his worst performance so far for the Defenders (2-1), completing 13 of 26 passes for 103 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Jones also took three sacks before he was replaced by backup Tyree Jackson in the fourth quarter.

Sunday night’s matchup marks the first in series history, though the teams will face off twice in the same month as the Vipers head to the nation’s capital on Saturday, March 28 for the teams’s second meeting of the season.

NOTES: The Vipers placed CB Rannell Hall on Injured Reserve, waived WR Donteea Dye and S Corey Moore and signed WR Seantavius Jones and S Robenson Therezie.

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