And just like that – week two of the USFL is upon us. This week’s slate of games kicked off on Friday night, with the New Jersey Generals taking on the Michigan Panthers.
In week one, both teams lost their first games, leaving the two with a hunger to grab their first win of the season. New Jersey lost on opening night against Birmingham on a last second touchdown. Meanwhile, Michigan dug themselves a hole against Houston, one that they could not dig out of.
Heading into tonight’s matchup, both teams were looking to prove that they belong in the USFL. It turned out to be a defensive battle, with the Generals coming out on top.
Both defenses got off to a solid start, forcing New Jersey and Michigan to punt on their opening possessions of the game.
New Jersey found a rhythm on their second drive of the game. The team leaned heavily into the ground game, powered by Darius Victor and DeAndre Johnson running the ball with a passion. Despite getting inside the five yard line, the Generals had to settle for a short field goal, taking a 3-0 lead.
The Generals shot themselves in the first half multiple times with untimely penalties. Those hurt the team on this drive, and Brock Miller had to punt the ball back to Michigan again. This time, the Panthers could not figure it out, and handed possession back to New Jersey.
After what was a troubling first half, Perez and company marched down the field efficiently. Johnson filled in with a couple of solid runs, and the Generals regained the lead with a touchdown run from Darius Victor.
"We're going to reverse this… let's make this a touchdown."
After another punt from Michigan, we went into halftime as the Generals led 10-6, finding a groove towards the end of the half.
Disappointment continued for Michigan in the third period. A solid march put them in scoring position, but a missed field goal left the game at 10-6. Watching the Panthers is frustrating – the team puts together good drives, but can never capitalize.
Patterson also missed what would have been a touchdown on the possession, which was a tough break for Michigan. New Jersey had a three and out to start the second half, however, which gave Michigan the ball right back. But, once again, the Panthers had nothing to show for their defensive efforts.
With both offenses being unable to get anything going in the third, it was still a 10-6 ball game heading into the final quarter.
New Jersey put together a solid drive, getting into Michigan’s red zone. Unfortunately, Nick Rose’s struggles from week one carried over into this game, as he missed a 34 yard field goal. The Panthers, being in the giving spirit, punted the ball right back to New Jersey.
Well, speaking of the giving spirit: Darius Victor fumbled on the very next play, giving Michigan possession in New Jersey territory. Kieron Williams laid an excellent hit on Victor, which gave the Panthers another opportunity.
I’m not trying to write the same lines over and over again…but unfortunately, that’s how a lot of this game went. Michigan failed to convert on the turnover, and punted it away again. New Jersey, on their drive – you guessed it – punted.
To be honest, both offenses looked completely out of sorts. Whenever a bit of success would be seen on the offensive end, a missed field goal or mental error would cause the team to lose their momentum.
The Panthers, while having their opportunities in the fourth, never quite figured it out. Another punt resulted in the Generals running the clock down to under two minutes, before Michigan got one final crack at it.
On 4th and 20, Patterson completed a miracle, which kept Michigan’s hopes alive.
For the second time this season, Michigan lost on a last second failed Hail Mary attempt. Patterson threw to Lance Lenoir Jr. in the end zone, but came up short. New Jersey grabbed the victory, 10-6 over Michigan.
First W of the season ✅ Winners of The Northern Duel ✅ Beating Michigan ✅
Generally speaking, tonight’s game was one of the sloppiest so far in the USFL. Neither offense found a rhythm throughout the game whatsoever. Defensively, both teams played pretty well – but it was poor offense that made them look as good as they did.
Ultimately, New Jersey found a way to win, despite how ugly it was. As the season continues, we should expect gameplay to improve, especially since teams simply need reps with one another.
Did you enjoy watching New Jersey vs. Michigan? Which players performed the best in your eyes? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!