Posts Tagged ‘NFL Wembley Stadium’

It was a blowout when the New England Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium in London just over a week ago.

The Buccs looked ugly, and I tend to agree with the guy from the Florida Tuskers UFL team (the 4 team league set up this Autumn) that said they could beat Tampa Bay.

I imagine one guy who was sure glad to be part of the on-field mobbing was Patriots running back Laurence Maroney. Maroney spent 2008 injured and was not expected to be a huge ‘playa’ in 2009.

Maroney has defied his critics and is performing well in a crowded New England backfield. With Sammy Morris injured Maroney made sure he looked good in London, and his late touchdown was a just reward for his efforts.

I was lucky enough to capture his score into the Patriots painted end zone. He took two attempts to score but he looked very happy. I managed to catch his celebratory hip hit jump after the score as well as his walk back to the sideline.

Enjoy.

With seats purchased in section 522 at Wembley Stadium, and my personal but irrational fear of heights, I had to stare at some random blokes arse in front of me as I ascended escalator after escalator before arriving at the entrance to the seated area.

Arriving and finding that I was 24 rows up from the small window into the Stadium I decided that I would do the typical tourist thing and just gawp in awe of the 85,000 seats in front of me, the holy Wembley Stadium grass resplendent in its new gridiron shaped map, complete with two stunning painted end zones, depicting the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers official NFL typeface. I love seeing the NFL logo on the 50 yard  line.

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There is nothing like Wembley Stadium after an NFL makeover

 

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Each endzone at Wembley had huge inflatable helmets - I was nearest the Tampa Bay side of the field

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Unfortunately I had to wear a Jason Campbell top at Wembley - thanks to the security man for taking my pic

 

I can't wait to see #12 throw a bomb to #81
I can’t wait to see #12 throw a bomb to #81

Its now just under twenty-four hours until I park my rear in the gods of Wembley Stadium to witness two future Hall of Fame enshrinees have some fun beneath the giant arch and the drizzly London sky.

 
This will be my third year in a row attending a regular season NFL game at Wembley, having seen the New York Giants swim past the Miami Dolphins 13-10 (2007) and the New Orleans Saints outgun the San Diego Chargers 37-32 (2008).
 
It will be my 9th NFL game, having been present at six NFL pre-season games in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
 
Without doubt Tom Brady and Randy Moss are THE biggest names to come to Wembley in the three years of NFL International Series games.
 
Brady with his three Superbowl winners rings and two Superbowl MVP trophies and Moss with…. well bizarrely no Superbowl wins at all and only one appearance.
 
To any non-UK fans reading this and curious about the pre-game hype over on this side of the pond, I must say that it has barely registered a blip on the zeitgeist of contemporary popular culture.
 
There was quite a decent article about Brady in the Independent newspaper today – the writer James Corrigan managed to draft a whole page of text without mentioning William ‘the Fridge’ Perry. I did spot one mistake – he spelt Bernard Pollard, the Chiefs safety who knocked Brady out of the 2008 season, with an extra h Bernhard. Maybe Bernard thought he deserved the hard title for keeping the Patriots away from a fourth Vince Lombadi trophy.
 
Talking of Vince Lombardi trophies an email from the marketing bods at NFLUK said that every single Superbowl trophy will be at the official tailgate party – if that is really the case then that is simply amazing.
 
Maybe if no-one is looking Ill grab one of the three Redskins Superbowl trophies (XVII, XXII or XXVI) after all about the only trophy the Redskins will be adding to their display cabinet is ‘Worst offense in NFL history’.
 
Above all I love the fact the NFL is still committed to trying to expand the game around the world. I wonder how many NEW fans are going to Wembley tomorrow? I would be interested to see how many repeat offenders there will be attending?
 
Unfortunately one person who will not be making it three in a row in my Black Country pal Garry. Garry and his wife Heather had prepared a bar-b-q behind the stadium for my wife and I in 2007 and 2008. This time they are on a USA road trip. Gaz – the game simply wont be the same. That and the fact we will be pocket raped by Wembley Stadium catering services.
 
Lets hope the drizzle and the 0-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers dont get in the way of some Brady to Moss fireworks.

bucccccccccccccTwo of the busier teams so far in the NFL Free Agency period have been the London bound Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots.

The Buccaneers have given the Washington Redskins a run for their money with the following moving to the sunshine state;

***BIG GAINS***

Kellen Winslow – Tight End (from Cleveland by trade) This guy is a stud and maybe the best Buccs TE since Jimmie Giles.

Derrick Ward – Running Back (from New York Giants) A burner who will add great value to the backfield, with Earnerst Graham and Skoda Williams – well he breaks down far too many times to be called Cadillac.

Mike Nugent – Kicker (from New York Jets) I always think of either gold or chicken nuggets when I read out his name, Nugent is a good young kicker.

In addition Tampa re-signed – Tight End Jerramy Stevens, Wide Receiver Antonio Bryant, Wide Receiver Michael Clayton (not the one played by pretty boy George Clooney),  Safety Jermaine Phillips, Wide Receiver Cortez Hankton.

***BIG LOSSES***

Jovan Haye – Defensive Tackle (to Tennessee)

Philip Buchannon – Cornerback (to Detroit)

In addition Tampa released Linebacker Derick Brooks, Running Back Warwick Dunn, Wide Receiver Ike Hilliard, Linebacker Cato June and will not re-sign Quarterback Jeff Garcia.

So what does all this mean for new head coach Raheem Morris?

Pretty simple – heading into the 2009 NFL Draft the focus for the Buccs will be on defense.

It also means that Wembley bound Tampa Bay will need to get an offensive protagonist and a good one at that as the inclusion of Ward, Winslow and keeping Antonio Bryant means the supporting cast is already in place.

Luke McCown, Brian Griese and the unproven Josh Johnson do not make me think 11-5 and playoff win, more like 7-9 and another season of frustration. The consensus is that this is a rebuilding year for Tampa Bay, but if they do manage to get a stud qb in the next month then they can help expectations rise to a 10-6 or 11-5 season. Matt Cassell would have surely had more immediate fun/wins here than at Kansas City?

The current FA quarterbacks left who have started many games – JP Losman and Byron Leftwich (I still love the memeory of his college offensive linemen carrying him as he fought injury as a Marshall QB – see below) are not really the answer.

I am not ignoring the need for the Buccs to upgrade their offensive line, but defense is where the Buccs will be drawing in new blood at the 2009 draft.

With Derrick Brooks released and Ronde Barber getting older (maybe 1 or 2 seasons left realistically) the team will look for a stud linebacker in round 1. Someone like  Clay Matthews (the younger) or James Laurinaitis would be great picks for the Buccs.

Young defensive players such as Barrett Ruud, Gaines Adams, Aquib Talib, Quincy Black and Sabby Piscitelli are all players you would describe as having a huge upside, and Ruud was worthy of a spot on the NFC 2008 Pro Bowl roster.  

With some clever drafting and a few tweaks in Free Agency the Buccs can be a force to be reconed with, and as ever those people fortunate enough to get (and afford) tickets to the Tampa Bay v New England NFL game in London in October will be able to see of all the moves in March mean success in 2009-10.

The Buccs are doing the right thing by getting younger – but 2009 may be a tough year ahead.