There was a whole lot to keep track of in the NFL this week, so you're excused if you didn't keep an eye on everything that went down in the XFL as it reached the midway point the regular season. We've got you covered if you missed anything, as Week 5 saw some of the most interesting outcomes of the season.
The week began with a stunner Thursday night as the Houston Roughnecks suffered their first loss in two XFL reboots. Then on Saturday, the D.C. Defenders showed they're the team to beat by going 5-0 in a win over the St. Louis BattleHawks -- behind an unreal performance by D.C. running back Abram Smith. In the other Saturday game, the Vegas Vipers and Orlando Guardians got in a shootout (67 total points) to see which would be left as the league's only winless team.
Here's a look at the scores, followed by takeaways below.
Seattle Sea Dragons 21, Houston Roughnecks 14
D.C. Defenders 28, St. Louis BattleHawks 20
Vegas Vipers 35, Orlando Guardians 32
Orlando Renegades 12, San Antonio Brahmas 10
Defenders 5-0 as Abram Smith runs wild in St. Louis
If there's any question that St. Louis misses pro football, it broke the XFL attendance record for the second straight week as 35,868 were at The Dome at America's Center to watch the BattleHawks. The home team kept it close, as A.J. McCarron's 50-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter made it a one-score game.
However, the star of the day was D.C. Defenders running back Abram Smith, who ran for three touchdowns -- including a 62-yarder in the second quarter and a 70-yarder in the fourth quarter -- finishing with 217 yards rushing.
Abram Smith is on fire tonight 🔥— XFL Stats (@XFL_Stats) March 19, 2023
He has 164 rushing yards on 12 attempts, with 3 TDs.
Despite Smith's effort's, St. Louis had a chance to tie it late after McCarron completed two short passes following his 50-yarder. But the BattleHawks' comeback attempt was squashed when Defenders defensive back Michael Joseph picked off McCarron -- Joseph's fourth interception of the season.
D.C. sits alone atop the league at 5-0, but will host arguably the XFL's second best team next week in the Houston Roughnecks.
Winless teams collide, Vipers earn victory
No matter what happened in this one there could be only one winless team left sitting, as the XFL's two 0-4 squads were in a battle of the resistible force vs. the movable object. There were plenty of points scored, 67 in all, but ultimately it came down to the final ticks after Orlando cut the Vegas lead to three with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Orlando QB Quintin Dormandy hit Cody Latimer for a 45-yard TD, but the Guardians couldn't convert on the extra point. They attempted to convert on 4th-and-15 rather than go for an onside kick, but the Vegas defense held. It wasn't quite over, but even after getting the ball back, Orlando couldn't do anything with it.
Dormandy had come in for Paxton Lynch who, other than an impressive opening drive, continued to struggle. Lynch was benched in each of Orlando's first two games.
Roughnecks suffer first loss in 10 XFL games
Through two XFL reboots -- first in 2020 and again in 2023 -- the Houston Roughnecks had not lost a single game no matter who was wearing their uniform. That streak finally ended on Thursday night at the hands of the Seattle Sea Dragons, but not before a wild ending.
The Roughnecks had scored the most points in the XFL entering the Week 5 matchup, but the Sea Dragons held them scoreless through three quarters in Seattle, thanks in part to two blocked punts, the first leading to the game's first touchdown.
In fact, the Sea Dragons led 21-6 with a little under two minutes left in the game -- it could've been worse had Seattle quarterback Ben DiNucci not been picked off in the end zone twice -- but that's when things went off the rails.
Roughnecks quarterback Brandon Silvers hit Justin Smith for a 47-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left, and a two-point conversion made it 21-14. In the XFL, rules allow teams to try to convert a 4th-and-15 to retain possession, rather than attempt an onside kick, and Houston did just that, as Deontay Burnett caught a 17-yard pass to keep the Roughnecks' hopes alive.
And they had a chance. A pass interference penalty put the ball on the Sea Dragons' 27-yard line for one final play. But a Seattle hit on Silvers caused the ball to float and get picked off by the Sea Dragons' Niko Lalos:
WILD FINISH IN SEATTLE. The @XFL2023 after dark is crazy!— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenPFN) March 17, 2023
Niko Lalos with the game winning turnover, on the forced fumble by Elijah Ponder for the @XFLSeaDragons. What a game. #XFL pic.twitter.com/oiR3NB1L0Y
The Roughnecks had started 5-0 in the 2020 version of the XFL before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had started 4-0 this season. Houston's loss leaves the D.C. Defenders as the league's last remaining unbeaten. The Sea Dragons improved to 3-2 on the season (you can check out the standings here, along with all the scores and 2023 season schedule).