USFL 2022: Top 5 games of the inaugural season

from RJ Young
FOX Sports USFL Writer

The inaugural season of USFL was filled with exciting moments, and Sunday’s championship game in Canton, Ohio, was a delightful end to the entire journey.

Now that the dust has settled on the Birmingham Stallions’ 33-30 victory over the Philadelphia Stars in the title game, it’s time to look back at the best games of the 2022 campaign.

Here are my top five.

5. Vad Lee’s game winner

The Maulers were desperate for quarterback help when they called up Vad Lee midway through the season. The signal caller, who became a three-time All-American at James Madison after transferring from Georgia Tech, was ready to go.

Five days after joining the team, Lee led a dramatic comeback, hitting Bailey Gaither from a basket for the game-winning touchdown that gave Pittsburgh its first win of the season.

It would also be the Maulers’ only win of a 1-9 season, but it was a brilliant moment to remember nonetheless.

Quarterback Vad Lee sparks a comeback for the Maulers

Quarterback Vad Lee sparks a comeback for the Maulers

Vad Lee led the Maulers to a comeback victory and threw for 170 passing yards in Pittsburgh’s win over Houston.

4. J’Mar Smith’s Week 1 Game Winner

We didn’t know it at the time, but the Week 1 matchup between Birmingham and New Jersey was going to be a battle between two of the best teams in the league. And it looked like the Generals would come out on top in the season opener, leading 24-21 with four minutes to play.

But that’s when Smith, who came off the bench early in the game in place of injured starter Alex McGough, went to work.

Smith led the Stallions on a 10-play, 59-yard drive, notching the game-winner when he went in from 2 yards out with 23 seconds left.

The Stallions’ J’Mar Smith batted for the game-winner

The Stallions' J'Mar Smith batted for the game-winner

Birmingham quarterback J’Mar Smith rolls to his right and drops inside to scramble for the game-winning touchdown to beat New Jersey in the USFL opener.

3. Sloter-to-Adams wins it for the Breakers

The New Orleans Breakers found themselves in a tight spot late in a Week 4 game against Houston.

With the score tied 16-16, they faced a third-and-8, on the edge of field goal range, when they were forced to use their final timeout.

That left them with a few options – try a long field goal, try a quick play to get a little closer, or try it all. They chose to do so.

Breakers QB Kyle Sloter, a Northern Colorado product, threw it to wide receiver Jonathan Adams, who came down with a 29-yard game-winning touchdown.

Breakers QB Kyle Slaughter finds Jonathan Adams for the game winner

Breakers QB Kyle Slaughter finds Jonathan Adams for the game winner

Kyle Slaughter hits Jonathan Adams for game-winning 29-yard touchdown as New Orleans beats Houston 23-16

2. To Maurice Alexander punt return TD

The Stars and Generals were locked in a tight playoff battle in the Northern Division Championship in Canton, Ohio, when league MVP KaVontae Turpin fired a punt return 78 yards for a touchdown.

The layup gave the Generals a 14-10 lead, and while there was still more than 10 minutes left in the game, there was the feeling of a potential blowout.

About six minutes later, now trailing 14-13, Stars QB Case Cookus was rallying for one final drive with a spot in the championship game.

But as he braced himself on the sideline, he suddenly realized he wouldn’t have to — Alexander was sprinting down the sideline for an 87-yard touchdown of his own.

Morris Alexander Jr.’s 87-yard punt return put the Stars up

Morris Alexander Jr.'s 87-yard punt return put the Stars up

Philadelphia took a decisive lead over New Jersey after Maurice Alexander Jr. returned a punt to the house for an 87-yard TD.

It was the perfect response to Turpin’s dazzling play, and it was the most important moment of the playoffs. At least until…

1. Scooby WrightThe 46-yard interception return in the USFL championship game

The Stallions led 26-23 over the Stars late in the USFL Championship Game. Still, with only about three minutes left in the game, the lead felt tenuous — at least until Wright got in front of KJ Costello’s pass and drove it home for a 33-23 advantage.

The play would prove decisive as Philadelphia scored another touchdown to pull within 33-30 with 1:10 remaining. But the stallions held on to take the crown.

Scooby Wright intercepts the house

Scooby Wright intercepts the house

Scooby Wright picked off KJ Costello’s pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown to give the Stallions a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the USFL Championship.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and host of the podcast “Number One Show With RJ Young.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Youngand subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube. It’s not on StepMill.

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