Sunday’s XFL game between the New York Guardians and the St. Louis BattleHawks has seen some notable moments, including a cameraman getting knocked down by a sideline collision. It also saw some history made, as St. Louis safety Joe Powell scored the new XFL‘s first kickoff return touchdown, going 84 yards for a touchdown after a lateral from initial receiver Keith Mumphery (who caught it at the 10-yard line and took it to the 20 before tossing it back to Powell around the 16).
— ESPN (@espn) February 23, 2020
That’s an impressive play, and it’s cool to see a lateral on a kick return. And while there’s potential for disaster there if the lateral goes wrong, this one certainly worked out. It also suggested that there are plenty of chances for exciting returns even under the XFL’s kickoff rules (which move the coverage and return teams to the 35-yard line, reducing the run-up before they collide). Those have received a lot of praise for their potential injury reduction, and it’s interesting to see that these rules can still produce giant returns. In fact, while this is the XFL’s first kickoff return for a touchdown, it puts them on a pretty good pace relative to the NFL this past season, as Rodger Sherman of The Ringer noted:
XFL kickoffs: 9 games, 1 return TD
NFL kickoffs in 2019: 256 games, 7 return TDs https://t.co/mJgFqXimwV
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) February 23, 2020
We’ll see how many more kickoff return touchdowns there are in the XFL, but this one was certainly a good one to be the first.