Vipers fall to 0-3 with loss in home opener

by Gary Shelton on February 23, 2020

in general

De'Veon Smith makes a catch to set up for a touchdown./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 3 a.m.

They scored some points.

They held a lead.

Is that enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers?

Probably not. The Vipers lost again, falling to 0-3 in the young XFL season after a 34 -27 loss to the undefeated Houston Roughnecks.

The Vipers held a 27-26 lead in the fourth quarter until Houston quarterback P.J. Walker threw his 10th touchdown pass of the season with 10:31 to play. the two point conversion provided the final margin.

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Flowers gets past Houston for a Touchdown./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Vipers threatened at the end, getting stopped at the Houston one and then throwing an interception with 1:05 to play.

"I’ll just start off by saying we’ve got a sick locker room in there, a lot of guys worked their tails off today," said Vipers' coach Marc Trestman. "I know we got better this week but it wasn’t good enough. We lost as a football team today. Really excited about our fans, I thought our fans were awesome today. They were behind us, they were loud, they gave us a lift, an energy lift.

"It was good to be home but at the end of the day we’ve got an unacceptable situation here of being 0-3 but we have a bunch of guys in there that know that we’ve gotten closer over the last three weeks. We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to get through this thing and find ourselves a ‘W’, but we’ll go back to work. Starting off in the beginning of the week and work to get a ‘W’ next week."

Cornelius threw a late interception for Vipers./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Vipers again started quarterback Taylor Cornelius. who hit 16 of 31 passes for 193 yards. Fan favorite Quinton Flowers threw for 51 yards and passed for 29 as his backup.

"We love Q (Flowers)," Trestman said, "We love what he brings to the table. He’s going to be a part of what we do each and every week. We’re going through a real transformation of trying to get a balance. You can see, we were better today, we were more productive offensively. We were more efficient in the red zone, certainly the time we needed to be most efficient we didn’t get it done, obviously.

"As you look through  the game, defensively, two big plays. A fumbled snap for a touchdown and a long pass and a break in coverage, that’s two touchdowns right there. Offensively, it was really not finishing two drives where we were down there both times. Again, we ran the ball pretty darn well. We’re still not throwing it as efficiently as we can and we had too many drops today that could have continued drives.”

Hannemann tries to run past the Houston defense./STEVEN MUNCIE

“Tough," Flowers said of the post-game locker room. "Quiet. Just knowing that you’re always saying you’re coming up close or coming up short – it’s tough when you’re right there. When you’re right there, you have to kick the door in. We continue killing ourselves and not doing it.”

The game was in doubt with Tampa Bay driving until Houston linebacker DeMarquis Gates picked off Cornelius with 1:05 to play to seal the game.

Late int he game the Vipers had a series near the Roughnecks goal, but chose to stay with Taylor rather than switch to the more elusive Flowers. Why?

"I hink it’s a valid question, it’s something everyone’s going to ask," Trestman said. "We decided to stick with the plan and keep Taylor in there. Certainly, as we look back, that’s part of getting to work through this process. We will look back, but you have to stand behind what you call and the plays that you run. I’m sure that will be part of [the process and] why with football there’s a week between each game. People have an opportunity to assess that situation."

The Vipers travel to Washington to play the D.C. Defenders on Sunday night at 7 p.m.

Trestman's team fell to 0-3./STEVEN MUNCIE

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