Thursday night football in Seattle at Lumen Field brought hope and pride to the Pacific Northwest as the (2-2) Seattle Sea Dragons faced the (4-0) undefeated Houston Roughnecks. Tied for first in the XFL, the Roughnecks just came off of a blowout in Orlando. They now focused on shaming the Sea Dragons on their own home turf. In Seattle, the team has built up confidence in their two-game win streak and feels poised to control the game and win in front of the Fans.
I decided to ask the anticipating fans who they thought would win tonight’s game as they stood eagerly awaiting the gates to open under the limelight of the, “360 Sky Club” neon sign.
“It’s so exciting to see this level of playing outside of the NFL. Of course, the Dragons will win! The Roughnecks haven’t played against this level of team yet”, said Tristan as he stopped for a moment from playing a mock football game in the parking lot with his friends.
Michael was bundled up waiting for the gates to open, dressed in full Roughneck attire. “The Roughnecks have some of the best players in the league. How can they not win?” He exclaimed, “They really don’t have a choice.”
Liam, a Seahawks season ticket holder and now a Seattle Sea Dragons fan and season ticket holder stated “I believe in their talent, I believe in ability, I believe in DiNucci/Gordon duo… and plus I drove all this way… so yah, they will win, and regardless, extending the football season for us devoted football fans is always the right decision.”
As the crowd emptied into the stadium, I couldn’t help but think of the 2020 XFL season and the excitement that was felt in the air. I smiled at the waiter at the Buffalo’s restaurant which, by the way, serves the freshest chicken strips with potato wedges this side of the Gorge, and hurriedly rushed to my seat to not miss the National Anthem.
I remember a comment made to me before the Seahawks took the Superbowl in 2014, “Defense will always win the game.” Tonight proved that theory correct. Tuzar Skipper and the Sea Dragons held the undefeated Roughnecks scoreless in the 1st quarter…2nd quarter….and the 3rd quarter! That’s right, three-quarters of offensive failures. From dropped balls to failed runs to an interception, the Roughnecks were acting “rough” and the Sea Dragons took advantage of it.
The first drive for Houston ended with two missed passes, a very entertaining sack, and a 1-yard loss on a blocked punt by McKnight. Seattle was stepping up to dismiss the Roughneck hype. I inched closer to the edge of my seat as I knew this was going to be a good game.
DiNucci and the Dragons stepped up to the line with 7:02 on the clock and paved a direct path to the endzone. Doing so with completed passes to Williams and Pearson. This set them up for an astounding rush of 20 yards by the “Nucci” magician. He pumped up the crowd with his skillful run and six points. The Sea Dragons were meaning business and the Roughneck fans I sat next to were looking worried.
Silvers steps up with 3:35 remaining in the 1st quarter brushing off the mistakes earlier and zeroed in on the game. He completed a fast 12-yard pass to Justin Smith. Then stepped back and hit Travell Harris for a well-placed 16-yard gain. My neighbor confidently glanced with a smile, “now it’s time to watch us.” And I fretted, eating some choice words spoken earlier. With an 11-yard pass to Deontay Burnett and a 4-yard toss to Byrd, the 1st quarter came to an end.
After a well-deserved bathroom break, I sat back down in the seat and presented my neighboring opponent with some pizza as a peace offering. The aroma and extraordinary smell attracted all the bystander’s senses. I became popular with only eight slices of pepperoni pizza.
I turned after giving the whole pizza away and systematically crossed my fingers then my feet, shook my head back and forth, and prepared for the 2nd quarter.
Silvers dropped back and turned the beginning 3rd down into a 1st down quieting the once anxious Sea Dragons fans a smidgen. I thought for a moment, then quickly snapped my fingers twice and clapped knowing it must have been me ruining the karma on the field. The next play engulfed the crowd as Antoine Brooks forced a fumble. Daniel Joseph fell on top recovering it. I looked at my hands and knew it was real.
With 10:13 on the clock, my ulcer begins to stir as DiNucci threw for his 1st of three interceptions on the night. Silvers and the Roughnecks lined up again with confidence and pushed the field for nine plays with five completed passes. Unfortunately, the Sea Dragons’ defense showed up and after a 5-yard penalty, they were forced back to the Sea Dragons’ 41-yard line. The drive resulted in a punt.
DiNucci looked up at the clock on his own 10-yard line with 4:16 remaining. He motioned toward his wide receiver, Jahcour Pearson, and stepped back with the ball. Driving his team in nine plays down to the 9-yard line with 53 seconds, DiNucci connects with Damion Willis for the 2nd Sea Dragons touchdown of the half. I sat back down after losing my towel that soared into the crowd. I watched as the Dragons attempted the famous 3-point conversion, which to date has not played out well. After chewing my first fingernail, DiNucci connects with Green bringing the first-half score to 15 Sea Dragons / 0 Roughnecks.
I refilled my beer and tried to make it back to my seat before the excitement began. And this is how it went:
#1 beer – punt, #2 beer – punt, finishing #2nd beer – punt, staring at my neighbor’s half-drunken beer – punt. Snapping my fingers together like kindling a fire and tapping my toes to awaken the karma Gods – (#2) interception for DiNucci…I quickly pounded my #3 beer to stay sane. Then realizing I I drank rather fast and sat back down. After two more punts, I began to think this might be a try-out for the punters to showcase their abilities. With 2:14 remaining in the 3rd, Sea Dragons awoke and drove to the Roughnecks’ 45-yard line. Here we ended the less-than-impressive quarter.
The locker room of the Houston Roughnecks must have resembled a Tony Robbins speech. One that would enlighten their minds to overcome any challenges. As they walked up to the Sea Dragons, they did so with determination and grit. With two sacks from Tim Ward and Chauncey Rivers, the Dragons were forced to punt their drive away.
Silvers threw three incomplete passes stifling the visiting crowd and had to punt it away. Then things turned around after a forced fumble from Morgan Ellison. The fumble was forced by John Daka and recovered by Glen Logan. The Roughnecks paused and had their heads held up. They were not going down without a fight.
At 8:54, performing four plays and only taking two minutes off the clock, Max Borghi pulled the strength of Zeus from his soul and rushed in for the touchdown making it a 6 -15 score. I held my breath as I realized that 15 points was not a big enough lead to secure the win.
DiNucci cleaned the ball off and looked down the field. He stepped back, looked at his receivers, then threw his 3rd and final interception. This was too much. Any more nervous beer drinking and I would be staying the night.
With 3:43 left in the game, the Sea Dragons switched it up and drove with the running game. Gaining 18 much need yards and ending with a 3-yard touchdown rush by D. Bradwell. The touchdown sent the home crowd into a frenzy and I poured myself a comfortable glass of wine. I felt confident in our team, I was basking in the glorious win we were about to have.
Then, without letting me know, Brandon Silvers decided that he wasn’t quite finished. With 1:22 remaining, he led his team down the field in eight plays and 74 yards. The drive while only eating 58 seconds off the clock. The drive ended with a 47-yard pass to Smith. Houston then followed with a successful 2-point conversion. This drive brought the score to 14 Roughnecks, and Sea Dragons 21. A 7-point game…
Houston invoked the 4th and 15 conversion and the crowd held their breath in disbelief that there was a possibility of a tie or loss. Just like the last game. How could we even hold it together with these close endings? Silvers lines up and takes the snap and connects with Deontay Burnett for 17 yards and successfully converts to a first down.
I sat back doing all my hand gestures and body movements, even forcing the nearby Dragon fans to participate. I had to summon all the surrounding hope I could to pull off this upsetting win against a hyped undefeated team. The fate of the Seattle Sea Dragons was balancing on my ritual.
Bryce Thompson started the nervousness off with a 31-yard penalty. I inhaled through my nostrils and exhaled out my mouth. The air was crisper than two minutes before and I could feel my eyes slowly freezing.
Silvers looks around at the incredible Sea Dragons’ defense and yells out audibles. The ball snaps, Smith runs his route, and Burnett runs his route, but the Seattle Sea Dragons defense shuts any hopes of winning with a beautifully timed interception from N. Lalos. Finally ending the game.
And I peacefully finished my wine and sat the glass down on the table.