After a pleasantly surprising Week 1 debut, there was plenty of excitement and anticipation for what the XFL had in store for Week 2. And while it didn't exactly blow the first week out of the water, the second week was still worth watching. We were treated to another weekend of entertaining football as XFL 2.0 is on the path to erasing the mistakes of XFL 1.0. Here are five things that caught everyone's attention during Week 2.
If there's one thing that has been consistent over the first two weeks it's fan interest. On Saturday, the Seattle Dragons drew the biggest XFL crowd to date, 29,172, in their home opener at CenturyLink Field against Tampa Bay, which they won 17-9. The Houston Roughnecks made it 17,000-plus two straight weeks as they won a tight game against St. Louis at TDECU Stadium, which also will host the XFL Championship in late April.
The DC Defenders improved to 2-0 with a 23-0 victory over the New York Guardians in front of a crowd of more than 15,000, down slightly from the 17,163 that were in attendance for the season opener. And the Los Angeles Wildcats nearly drew 15,000 (14,997) in their home opener at Dignity Health Sports Park (where the Chargers played this past season) against Dallas on Sunday. Overall attendance increased by about 10 percent compared to Week 1.
This weekend will see the St. Louis BattleHawks (The Dome at America's Center) and the Tampa Bay Vipers (Raymond James Stadium) make their home debuts. The Vipers are off to a tough start at 0-2 so that could impact attendance while the BattleHawks are 1-1 and St. Louis-area fans have taken notice.
2. TV ratings
Seattle and St. Louis were the big winners in this department once again. The Dragons' home opener drew a 7.6 rating with a 22 share, which is a nice increase from the 6.4 the Seattle-Tacoma market posted for last week's season opener in DC. The BattleHawks/Roughnecks matchup drew a 6.0 in the St. Louis market. Now while that's down from last week's 7.4 against Dallas, the BattleHawks outperformed the NHL's St. Louis Blues in the same time frame by almost three full rating points (3.1). The Defenders also saw a small decrease in their win over New York (down from 4.0 to 3.8), but still drew plenty of eyes to the game.
3. Quarterback showcase
DC's Cardale Jones, Houston's P.J. Walker, and St. Louis' Jordan Ta'amu (who was nominated for "Star of the Week" again) all occupied the highlight reels for the second consecutive week. Jones put on a clinic in the Defenders' 23-0 shut out of New York, while Walker outdueled Ta'amu in what was considered the most exciting game of the week, if not the season thus far. These three signal-callers combined for 730 passing yards, 73 rushing yards, and were responsible for nine total touchdowns. They are among the XFL's offensive leaders and for good reason. Week 2 also saw Los Angeles' Josh Johnson (18-of-34, 196 yards, 2 TDs), and Dallas' Landry Jones (28-of-40, 305 yards, TD) make their XFL debuts against one another with Jones coming out victorious.
4. Running backs make their presence known
The XFL quickly established itself as a passing league during it's opening weekend. But in Week 2 we saw more running backs get in on the action. The top individual rusher this past weekend was Dallas' Cameron Artis-Payne who posted 99 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the Renegades' win over Los Angeles. His teammate, Lance Dunbar, also pitched in (42 yards on six carries). Tampa Bay's Jacques Patrick and De'Veon Smith put together a solid effort in the Vipers' loss at Seattle (combined 119 yards on 25 carries), while the Dragons leaned on their backfield trio of Trey Williams, Kenneth Farrow, and Ja'quan Gardner (117 yards on 31 attempts).
Elsewhere, the Roughnecks-BattleHawks game saw a total of 204 yards and two scores on the ground. And DC's duo of Donnel Pumphrey and Jhurell Pressley (84 yards on 23 carries) did their part as well. Perhaps we'll see more run plays called in Week 3.
5. Looking ahead to Week 3
On paper, there are some compelling matchups heading into the XFL's third week. As was mentioned earlier, St. Louis and Tampa Bay will finally play their first home games. The Vipers will be tasked with trying to slow down the red-hot Houston Roughnecks (Feb. 22, 2 p.m. ET), while the BattleHawks look to reward their fans' loyalty with a win over the New York Guardians (Feb. 23, 3 p.m. ET). Seattle hosts Dallas in what could be a contentious matchup of .500 teams (Feb. 22, 5 p.m. ET), while DC pays a visit to Los Angeles for their first road game of the year (Feb. 23, 6 p.m. ET).
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.