The first weekend of the USFL games isn’t over yet. Sunday’s triple-hit was battered by the weather in Birmingham, Alabama. It started when the first game between the Michigan Panthers and the Houston Gamblers was delayed by an hour, and concluded with a night delay between the Tampa Bay Bandits and the Pittsburgh Mowlers (the game will now take place on Mondays at 7 p.m. ET).
The two Sunday matches played did not disappoint. The first is that the Houston punters narrowly fended off a furious comeback by the Michigan Panthers, whose likely landing in the last play was incomplete in the end zone. The punters won the opening game on Sunday 17-12 as Mark Thompson rushed 13 times for 71 yards. Shea Patterson went 17 of 25 for 192 yards and touchdowns for the Panthers, but the quarterback also had three fumbles (lost one) in the defeat—part of nine fumbles Michigan had on the day.
In the second of three games scheduled on Sunday – before the postponement – the New Orleans Breakers took advantage of first-half errors by the Philadelphia Stars to build an early lead, then discovered their offensive flow in the second half and went on to win 23-17. Jordan Ellis got the go-ahead from two yards away to start the fourth quarter that gave the Breakers the lead for good. The Stars faced a 9-0 deficit before tying the match at 17-17 in the third quarter. Darnell Holland rushed for 42 yards to tie the game in the third quarter, with the Stars scoring 10 points in the quarter.
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Philadelphia bugs resolved throughout the afternoon. Quarterbacks Brian Scott threw an interception at Fontay Diggs, who returned 37 touchdown yards to put the Breakers ahead 7-0. New Orleans also blocked Matt Mengele’s bet for safety. Mengal also missed two field goals, one from 45 yards and one from 44 yards. The Breakers had six sacks in the win, and Davin Bellamy scored three of them.
We have already seen a thriller in Birmingham Stallion win the season opener on Saturday nightBoth Sunday’s matches were close, too. The three winners have been from the South Division so far – Here is a look at the ranking – All results were within six points. Here’s a look at the results by Sunday’s list:
Birmingham Stallion 28, New Jersey 24 generals
Houston Gamblers 17, Michigan Panthers 12 (Final)
New Orleans Breakers 23, Philadelphia Stars 17 (Final)
Tampa Bay Bandits vs Pittsburgh Mullers, 7pm ET, FS1, fuboTV (PPD from Sunday due to rain)
Here are the takeaways from Sunday’s games (you can relive the highlights and updates in the live blog below).
Why did houston gamblers win?
Gamblers took advantage of two turns from a Panthers attack that failed to score any points in the first half, using a confusion from Shea Patterson and another stumble by Paxton Lynch to score a two-time touchdown that led to a 17-0 lead at halftime. Michigan had nine loss failures, and two lost by quarterbacks that left them facing a possession deficit (in the NFL, a team can score up to nine points on possession).
Why Michigan Panthers Lost
The Panthers had three failures in the second quarter, highlighting inconsistent midfield play throughout the afternoon between Patterson and Lynch. The Panthers actually completed as many passes in the first half as they faltered (five), resulting in 14 points by punters. The second-half comeback was too big to be overcome due to first-half errors.
Why did the New Orleans Breakers win?
Give the New Orleans insult some credit for finding its rhythm in the second half after going goalless on its first six possessions. The Breakers wore star defense on the ground, dashing for 171 yards and two landings on their way to score points on back-to-back possessions for victory; 58 of those stream yards came in these two scoring orders.
Why did the Philadelphia Stars lose?
Teams’ own mistakes cost the stars in this. Two field goals lost six points off the board and a no-ball throw led to safety by the breakers—damaging all of Philadelphia’s offensive progress in the first half. Brian Scott also threw an interception that came back down to put the Stars into a 7-0 hole early in the game. The Superstars gave the breaker nine points and lost a chance to six of them in the attack. They lost six.
The Punters took a 3-0 lead with the Panthers leading into the red zone before a defensive end forced Ahmed Gooden’s Shea Patterson to stumble while Reggie Northrop took the rebound 87 yards the other way for the score and gave Houston a solid 11-0 lead to start the second quarter.
Patterson faltered to start the play, but Gooden took advantage of the situation. It ended with three forced holdings and two bags.
The Panthers (0-1) will play the New Jersey Generals (0-1) Friday night at 8pm while the Gamblers (1-0) will play Birmingham Stallion (1-0) on Saturday at 7pm ET. The Stars (0-1) play the Pittsburgh Maulers (0-0) on Saturday noon ET while The Breakers (1-0) play the Tampa Bay Bandits on Sunday at 3 PM ET. All NFL regular season games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama.
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