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Thurman, DC defense thrive in XFL's first shutout

Highlights: DC Defenders 27, New York Guardians 0

WASHINGTON -- The DC Defenders defense continued its dominance with three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble to help it record the XFL’s first shutout, beating the New York Guardians, 27-0. 

After a strong Week 1 that featured two defensive touchdowns and 48 combined tackles, the Defenders locked down Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin, holding the former Oakland Raider to just eight completions and 44 total yards.

Tallying up 35 combined tackles and the team’s third defensive touchdown -- a league-best – linebacker Jameer Thurman said he believes his team’s defensive presence sets a standard.

“We are a different kind of defense over here,” he said. “We got a certain discipline; we always want to stick to a certain standard, and we showed that today with the goose egg up there -- not giving them any points at all. 

“It feels great.”

The Defenders’ first drive started deep in their territory. Despite early trouble from the Guardians’ defense, quarterback Cardale Jones kept things moving with a 14-yard scramble on 4th-and-2 from New York’s 47-yard line and capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins to put the Defenders up 6-0 early in the first quarter.

After the score, the Defenders defense came out and clamped down on the Guardians. Two plays into the drive -- following a big hit from linebacker Scooby Wright -- cornerback Rahim Moore forced a strip-fumble from behind and recovered the ball to give it back to the Defenders.

Defenders LB Jameer Thurman celebrates after he returned an interception returned for a touchdown.

An interception to Defenders’ cornerback Matt Elam on the following drive extended the early trouble for the Guardians, who simply could not get their offense going, tallying under 100 yards in the first half.

Two field goals from D.C. kicker Ty Rausa put the Defenders up 12-0 heading into halftime.

McGloin, who had only five completions and 32-yards for a 36-percent completion percentage in the first half, called the output embarrassing, and said the Guardians needed to change their game plan.

The second half didn’t go any better for the Guardians’ offense. McGloin threw a pick-six to Thurman four plays into the first drive.

“We were in zone, Thurman said. “I saw two (receivers). So I went inside, ‘cause I knew someone would be coming back to me. I was just in the right place at the right time. 

“Our D-line got pressure on the play, so he had to get the ball out and then I just caught it and ran in.”

Defenders defensive coordinator Louie Cioffi praised his entire defense for their sacrifices on the field.

“I’m really proud of these guys, they executed our plan flawlessly,” he said. “The great thing about this is guys are sacrificing being with their families and are doing this for the love of football. Every one of these guys will have this for the rest of their lives. 

“This is the first shutout in XFL history and I’m proud of these guys.”

DC head coach Pep Hamilton followed Cioffi in the postgame press conference with praise for the team’s overall play.

“You talk about physicality now,” Hamilton said. “Our guys were physical, they were aggressive to the football and, once again, we were able to take the ball away.

“We look forward to winning our next couple games and getting back here.”

The Defenders hit the road next week to take on the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. ET, televised on FS1.

DC’s next home game is March 8 at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.