A game of football always has two sides, offensive and defensive play.
When a team executes both factors at a high level, they almost always win. The New York Guardians did just that as underdogs Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Vipers, with a point spread of that opened up at -3 points in the Vipers favor.
The New York Guardians, who made their opponent look unfit for football, dominated the Tampa Bay Vipers through four quarters of play. New York, led by quarterback Matt McGloin, went 15/29 with one passing and one rushing touchdown. Better yet, McGloin looked polished, with no interceptions.
McGloin said the following. “I just thought offensively there was a lot of flashes of how good we can be and some of the potential that some of the guys on that offense have but our offense as a whole, and obviously, there’s a lot that we need to work on still, but we’re close.”
Matt McGloin seems to feel the product of today’s game could just be the start of something special. He then later went on to praise his core group of running backs, who became a threat not only on the ground but in the passing game. “We’re very fortunate to have depth. Those guys are very skilled in the pass game, in the run game, and pass protection.”
The mastermind of it all, coach Kevin Gilbride, had a lot to say about the given by his players in their upset win.
“In terms of effort, in terms of heart, in terms of character, I thought they were terrific. It’s always nice to coach from a W and get better from there, so that’s what we’re looking forward to doing this week.”
Altogether it was a feel-good win for the Guardians, a day of firsts, as the high-level offense was complemented by an elite defense. The Guardians had five sacks as well as three interceptions and allowed no touchdowns. The lockdown play of the secondary had Vipers QB Aaron Murray (16/34, 231 yards and two interceptions) second-guessing all of his reads. This allowed for pass rushers to enter the backfield pressuring Murray into bad throws.
“You have to understand that when you play a good defense, you have to play perfect football,” Aaron Murray said. “You have to take care of it, you have to tuck it, you can’t force balls into tight windows because good defenses are going to make plays and you can get away with some of that stuff vs. lesser defenses. As we saw today it’s a good defense. They can make plays if you give them an opportunity and they definitely did that.”
Linebacker Ben Heeney’s play had stood out, with two tackles and nine assisted tackles, and one tackle for loss. Another defender who made his name known was defensive end Bunmi Rotini JR. JR had seven solo tackles, two combined tackles, and two tackles for loss. And finally, safety Wesley Sutton had two sacks putting the Vipers back fifteen yards, as well as five combined tackles. The Guardians completely shut down the Viper’s lackluster offense.
Fans were lined up outside the stadium in anticipation of the game. Walking onto the concourse chants of “Go Guardians” and “LGG” (Let’s Go Guardians) could be heard. Players were seen interacting with fans pregame, talking to the military in attendance, playing catch with fans, and signing plenty of autographs. “MVP, MVP, MVP,” rang throughout MetLife during quarterback Matt McGloin’s opening drive. There was a recorded crowd of 17,634, which came as a reminder that not only the players came to play, but a whole tri-state area was there in support.
Expect next week’s game versus the DC Defenders to be a defining moment, as it will be a test for the team’s defense, with the always dangerous Cardale Jones at quarterback. Hopefully, the XFL can continue it’s good ticket sales, the rumors of high TV ratings are true, and that fans are watching not just in week one but in week ten.
Gavin Hayes is a sports writer and photographer. His past work includes working for Amazin’ Prospects covering the New York Mets minor league system, and formally covered the New York Jets and AFC East for Fan Source Network and Prime Time Sports Talk. He now joins the XFL Board staff with intentions to cover the New York Guardians and general XFL news. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org , or Twitter/Instagram direct message. Business inquires only, please.