The D.C. Defenders’ inaugural United Football League (UFL) season began with a tough 27-12 defeat to the San Antonio Brahmas on March 31st. The Defenders’ offense sputtered at the worst possible momenst throughout the game, but was still able to showcase the high flying offense many speculated they would

Offense and Defense Humming Despite Loss

  • Offense: The Defenders’ offense generated a total of 253 yards compared to the Brahmas’ 270 yards. D.C. had more passing yards (209 yards) than rushing yards (44 yards). However, their passing completion percentage was low at 55.6% (25 completions out of 45 attempts).
  • Passing Offense: D.C.’s quarterbacks threw for a total of 209 yards with a completion percentage of 55.6%. Four receivers caught four or more passes: Ty Scott (4 receptions for 87 yards), Brandon Smith (4 receptions for 47 yards), Briley Moore-McKinney (4 receptions for 28 yards), and Alex Ellis (3 receptions for 28 yards).
  • The average yards per reception for the Defenders was respectable at over 9 yards (9.3 Y/G).
  • Jordan Ta’amu led the league week 1 in passing yards.
  • Ty Scott led the league week 1 in recieving yards.
  • Rushing Offense: The Defenders rushed for 44 yards on 13 attempts. The team struggled heavily in this area. Keep an eye on the running game this week to see if there are any major adjustments.
  • Defense: Defensively, the Defenders were able to force a turnover and limit the Brahmas’ passing game but allowed a total of 270 yards (195 passing yards and 76 rushing yards). Penalties were also an issue, with seven flags for 70 yards.
  • Full Game Highlights: D.C. Defenders vs San Antonio Brahmas
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Special Teams Shines

  • Special Teams Performance: The kickoff and punt returner Pooka Williams for the D.C. Defenders contributed significantly, accumulating 122 yards from kickoff returns and 35 yards from punt returns. This performance suggests a potential underutilization of the player in the running game. Kicker Matthew McCrane also emerged as a bright spot, converting all four field goal attempts.
  • Offensive Strategy and Play Calling: Despite moving the ball effectively through the air, the team’s reluctance to take risks on fourth and short was noted. The Defenders managed to convert five out of fourteen third downs but were unsuccessful in their single fourth-down attempt.
  • Penalties and Game Management: The Defenders benefited from penalties on three occasions that resulted in first downs. However, inability to capitalize on these opportunities, coupled with conservative play-calling, was identified as a key factor in their inability to score touchdowns.

Poor Sportsmanship Turns the Tide

  • How We Got Here: During crucial moment in the fourth quarter the D.C. Defenders had an opportunity to close the gap and potentially tie the game. Jordan Ta’amu threw a 43yd DIME to Ty Scott, which resulted in a critical play driving the team into a scoring position. However, this momentum was quickly overshadowed by a controversial incident involving offensive guard Jean Delance. Delance was flagged and ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct after spitting on an opponent, which not only negated a touchdown due to a subsequent offside penalty discovered upon review but also led to significant penalty yards being assessed against the Defenders.
  • Impact of Penalties and Decision Making: The incident involving Delance had a considerable impact, overturning a touchdown that would have brought the Defenders within a 2pt conversion of a tie! The United Football League’s “super challenge” rule allowed the Brahmas’ coaching staff to review and challenge the missed offside call, leading to the touchdown being negated and the Defenders being penalized. In the ensueing series Ta’amu threw an interception that was returned by Darius Phillips 90yds to the 5yd line. Only Kelvin Harmon running him down the whole field kept him from scoring a pick six.

Key Takeaway

Despite the loss, the Jordan Ta’amu and the D.C. Defenders showed that they can be one of the best passing offenses in the UFL. They faceoff against the 0-1 Arlington Renagades in Week 2 at home. Checkout the latest UFL Power Rankings in the meantime!

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Jordan Rains
Jordan Rains is a versatile sports writer with a focus on professional football, known for his talent in capturing the unique voices and overlooked narratives within the game. With a deep passion for storytelling and an intuitive understanding of the competitive spirit that drives athletes, Rains collaborates closely with players, coaches, and teams to craft compelling profiles, game recaps, and in-depth features that resonate with fans and bring the sport to life. Follow @50shadesofdrunk on Twitter/X.

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