The New York Guardians provided an alternative to what the Giants and Jets put out in 2019: Winning.
New York’s XFL franchise — who shares a stadium with the two NYC-area NFL teams at MetLife Stadium — reigned supreme in their debut game on Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands, defeating the Tampa Bay Vipers 23-3.
Penn State standout and former Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin led the Guardians’ effort, completing 15-of-29 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.
It was their defense, though, that did the heavy lifting as they forced three turnovers and didn’t allow a single touchdown.
Their heroics provided a triumphant return to the sidelines for Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride, who last worked in football as the Giants’ offensive coordinator in 2013 and helped them win a pair of Super Bowl titles.
The Guardians showed more offensive affluence than both New York City-area NFL franchise, scoring a touchdown on their first-ever drive.
McGloin finished off an impressive opening possession with a one-yard keeper to polish off an eight-play, 48-yard drive five minutes into the game.
He showed off his arm early in the second quarter when he hooked up with Mekale McKay for a 45-yard completion to set up a 12-yard touchdown connection to Colby Pearson, who played his college football in MetLife Stadium’s backyard at Monmouth University.
New York’s defense flexed its muscles with a pair of interceptions of Georgia product Aaron Murray, the second leading to a field goal in the final seconds of the first half to give the Guardians a 17-0 lead heading into the break.
The Guardians’ defense wouldn’t yield until a minute left in the third when the Vipers tacked on a field goal for their first-ever XFL points after New York stood them up on the five-yard-line.
They made up for it early in the fourth to put the game away when Tampa Bay’s Nick Truesdell fumbled a completion deep in his territory where it was scooped up and returned by Jamar Summers for a 21-yard touchdown.
Tampa Bay had four trips in total to the Guardians’ red zone and came away with no touchdowns — a tough pill to swallow for a team that outgained the hosts by almost 200 yards on the afternoon.