ST. LOUIS — Call it recency bias if you want, but St. Louis is all in on the BattleHawks.
St. Louis had the best TV ratings in the country for an XFL game last weekend, BattleHawks merchandise is flying off the shelves and the expected attendance numbers at the dome next weekend just continue to rise.
It seems St. Louisans are just happy to have football back in their lives.
And no, this isn't exactly the "Greatest Show on Turf" reincarnated on the field, but the BattleHawks first game in Dallas did shine the light on a potential XFL star in the making.
It wasn't always pretty last Sunday, and the returns are early, but BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta'amu has the skills and the swagger to be St. Louis' first XFL star.
No, Ta'amu wasn't perfect in his first game, he'll admit that himself. But there were flashes when he showed why he can get a crowd up out of their seat.
He did what he needed to do in the air in Game 1. Ta'amu was 20 for 27 for 209 yards and a touchdown against Dallas. That's the best completion percentage of any quarterback in week one. He also averaged 7.7 yards per completion and had a 108.4 quarterback rating, both of which were second among all quarterbacks after Washington's Cardale Jones.
This impressive, 41-yard completion to Alonzo Russell was probably the passing highlight of the game for Ta'amu.
Ta'amu credited the offseason relationships he built with his receivers for his nice showing in the passing game.
"I think timing was everything. Practicing day in and day out with our receivers, making sure our timing was right, making sure I know each individual and what they want. Some guys have different strengths," Ta'amu said. "Some guys are lengthy, some guys have speed, some guys like to cut or round, so being able to work with them from December to now was really good, but I think today I could've made better throws, put it on them a little more."
So in the air, Ta'amu was good, with some flashes of being great. But it was on the ground where he really captured the attention of St. Louis fans.
Ta'amu rushed for 77 yards in his first game. That's the third-most of any player in the entire league.
And it often seemed like the BattleHawks were at their best when he took things into his own hands, or legs that is, and made something happen from nothing.
Everyone knew the ability to run was in his skill set, but finally seeing it play out on the field was a big treat.
"He extended plays, he did a nice job with his feet and made a lot of nice throws. We have to make sure he knows how critical it is for him to get the ball out of his hands there late in the game," BattleHawks head coach Johnathan Hayes said after the game. "I thought Jordan showed good composure. I thought for the entire team they showed good composure."
"It was definitely exciting just to go out there and play with live bullets flying at you. That's kind of one of my strengths. Being able to use my legs when I have nothing downfield. That kind of opens up our offense a lot," Ta'amu said after the game. "They have to worry about our receiver, great running backs and the quarterback on top of it. Just using my feet as another weapon in our offense."
The "Throwin' Samoan" will have a tough test on the road on Sunday against a Houston defense anchored by former Mizzou and Carolina Panthers lineman Kony Ealy. If he gets out in space though, Houston might have a problem. (Sorry for the pun)
Ta'amu and the BattleHawks gave St. Louis football fans a reason to cheer for the first time in what feels like forever. That atmosphere at the dome for the first home game on February 23 is going to be rocking no matter what, but just imagine if their new star brings them home 2-0 to start the franchise? Stan Kroenke might have to issue a noise complaint all the way from his mansion in Columbia, Missouri.
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