Former Steeler Rod Woodson, Vipers Fall Short in XFL Opener
Journeyman quarterback Luis Perez orchestrated a late drive capped with a receiving score by former Slippery Rock University receiver Cinque Sweeting, but the Vegas Vipers fell short in a 22-20 loss on the road against the Arlington Renegades Saturday afternoon. The game was both teams’ XFL season opener.
Vegas wound up falling just short, but Slippery Rock University alum Cinque Sweeting (@CqSoles) had two clutch catches to give the Vipers a chance at knotting it up late. These types of plays come as no surprise to SRU folk @Rock_Athletics @lutzsru @SRURockFB pic.twitter.com/VY8uD4os1D
— Brendan Howe (@bybrendanhowe) February 18, 2023
That final Vipers march was the most expedient of the day, as head coach and former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson’s side got the ball back with 49 seconds to go, down by eight points.
Perez hit Sweeting for a 30-yard gain on the series’ first play, then connected with another former Steeler, Martavis Bryant, for 10 yards on the next. He targeted those same two wideouts on the pair of plays that followed before finding Sweeting on a crosser for a 20-yard touchdown with 12 ticks remaining.
Perez got out of the gates hot, hitting the mark on each of his initial five passes, and going 8-for-9 on his attack’s opening scoring drive. Jeff Badet reeled in that touchdown and then another in the second quarter.
In the meantime, Arlington responded with a field goal make on their first touch and followed that with a pair of three-and-outs. Drew Plitt threw an interception with less than a minute left before the halftime break, but the Vipers missed a field goal as time expired in the first half.
A couple of miscues allowed the Renegades back into it, as Tomasi Laulile notched a pick-six and Vegas coughed the ball up on its next series. Two ensuing Arlington field goals gave them the edge for good.
A Perez pass intended for Bryant with under five minutes to go in the fourth was also intercepted and returned for six.
Sweeting paced the team with his three grabs for 64 yards and Bryant — one of the most touted pass-catchers in XFL on reputation alone — pulled in four passes for 28 yards.