Vipers get first victory with route of DC

by Gary Shelton on March 2, 2020

in general

Cornelius dives in for a touchdown after a 17 yard run./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 4 a.m.

Who were those guys?

Maybe you recognized the uniforms. Maybe you remembered the jersey numbers. But the way they played?

The Tampa Bay Vipers won the first game of their history Sunday night, clobbering the defenseless Defenders, 25-0. Defense and a strong running game led the Vipers, who improved to 1-3 on the season.

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Patrick had his first 100-yard day for Vipers./STEVEN MUNCIE

"I'm just happy for our players and our coaches," said Vipers' coach Marc Trestman. "They are a resilient bunch. Our players have a sense of how good we can be. We said it all along. There a sign of a good team in there. We are going to enjoy the win, but there's a lot of different ways we can get better. There’s nothing like a winning locker room.”

De'Veon Smith rushed for 122 yards and Jacques Patrick for 108 to lead the Vipers' offense. The defense, meanwhile, held DC to 107 total yards (Tampa Bay had 477). The Vipers had 29 first downs to six for the Defenders.

Patrick's big game came two days after the death of his father.

“It’s a weird situation, because my father brought me into this sport and he actually got to see me play my first professional game in New York when we played the Guardians, so he actually got to see me do that," Patrick said. "Last week it was tough, because I had to bury my dad on Friday and then come play a game on Saturday. So, I just tried to give my all last week and I feel like I owed my team a little bit more this week, because of it. I don’t know if I was fully there mentally, just because of having to see that and my father meant a lot to me – he meant a lot to this sport for me. So, just coming out here and getting a touchdown for him – I know he’s smiling.”

Trestman enjoyed seeing Patrick's effort.

“I just think that if our fans want to get to know a player, he is one guy that everybody should get to know," Trestman said. "He is extremely football intelligent, even keeled – what you saw out there tonight is how he practices in practice each and every day. He’s played through some stuff over the last couple weeks and has stood by his team and I couldn’t be happier for him. What people are seeing is who he is, and he is just a very dynamic football player…”

Starting DC quarterback Cardale Jones had a miserable night, going nine for 22 for only 41 yards and a rating of 30.9.

Smith powers past DC for a first down./STEVEN MUNCIE

Tampa Bay quarterback Taylor Cornelius had his most efficient game, hitting 24 of 31 passes for 211 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another.

“I thought he played well tonight," Trestman said, "I thought he played winning football tonight. I thought he could have made a better throw on the interception in the right corner. I think we really had two guys open and that just goes to reps and working more with him. We took a shot and put him in a position to make a play and it didn’t turn out that way. But he did a really good job outside of the pocket… He moved the football team, he used the clock properly. We played fast tonight. We went with a lot of really fast calls up there. He communicated well and he is an even-keeled young man with high football intelligence. It has been fun to work with him.”

The Vipers had two sacks and five tackles for losses. The Defenders managed only 46 yards rushing.

Tampa Bay is back on the road next week, traveling to Los Angeles to play the Wildcats. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Linebacker Reggie Northrup celebrates a stop./STEVEN MUNCIE


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