Posts Tagged ‘Wembley’

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.

It wasn’t a close game, and in fact it never was going to be, as the New England Patriots bossed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from start to finish at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

Still, six total touchdowns, no rain, and a masterclass from Tom Brady was well worth the entrance fee, and the slick Patriots offense had all of the fans from across Europe hypnotised.

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It was fun to see #24 Cadillac Williams and #34 Earnest Graham warm up in front of me

I was sad not to see Randy Moss score a touchdown, but I did enjoy seeing the likes of Buccaneers RB Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams warming up in front of me, as well as witnessing Junior (oh the irony) Seau suit up and go after Josh Freeman as late as the fourth quarter.

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He may be in his 40s but #55 Junior Seau still knows how to play football

The big questions now being asked are Can London host MORE than just one NFL regular season game? and in the future could there be enough interest for England to have its very own NFL franchise?

Judging by the knowledgable fans (yes here in England we do know the difference between the Wishbone and the Wildcat, and we can spot someone who has just been found guilty of illegal motion) I think that it is possible to sustain an NFL franchise here.

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I can't wait to come back to London to see NFL football in 2010

84,000 fans made their pilgrimage to Wembley from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and many countries across Europe. I saw people from Germany, Italy and Finland just as a start.

If Roger Goodell needs any more proof that there are dedicated and loyal NFL fans in England then I do not know what to suggest.

Thankyou Roger and thankyou to all of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organisation, including the fans in Florida. You sacrificed a home game to enable passionate NFL fans from Europe to witness real NFL football in the flesh, and we are forever grateful.

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We all went home happy after seeing Tom Brady strut his stuff at Wembley

Roll on 2010 – with maybe two NFL games in London. Can I put a bid in for the Redskins to come over please!

Brandon Merriweather’s two interceptions in the first half of the first quarter (including one he ran back for the first score of the game) were enough alone to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the New England Patriots decided to give the London NFL fans a show none the less.

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Sam Aiken #88 is congratulated by Patriots team mates after his first ever NFL touchdown thrown by Tom Brady

The 2009 Wembley NFL crowd saw Tom Brady throw three touchdowns, one to WR Wes Welker, one to WR Sam Aiken (his first ever NFL touchdown) and one to tight end Ben Watson.

The Buccaneers managed just one score themselves, in hurry-up time at the end of the first half, Josh Johnson passing to WR Antonio Bryant.

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Time-Out New England Patriots - Future Hall of Fame WR Randy Moss #81 takes a breather

The final scoring play of the game was a Laurence Maroney rushing touchdown that I managed to capture on film.

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Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicks one of his five extra points in London

New England Patriots 35 – 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the final score. Here is the NFL gamebook from London.

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Watching NFL football live at Wembley Stadium in London on a sunday evening is pure heaven

After a year, and a memorable encounter between the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints in the memory bank, it was time to settle down and witness the three time Superbowl champion New England Patriots play the one time Superbowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Not in my living room, not at Ray Jay or Foxboro, but here in England, yes here in England. The third consecutive year the NFL have graced Wembley Stadium and London with a regular season american football game.

It is downright weird to to think that we drove on the M42 and M40 motorway, did not catch a plane, or get on a cruise ship, travelled about 10 tube stops and there we were at a regular season NFL game.

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Brandom Merriweather returned this interception for the first touchdown - I just about captured the play

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Huddle up Tom Brady is gonna call a play!

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Tom Brady grabs a gulp of Gatorzade before taking the field at Wembley

 

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The Buccaneers offense discusses a play call during a tv timeout - note the magic sky camera !

The three pre-game acts for the NFL International game in London between the Patriots and the Buccaneers were to say the least unable to float my boat.

Calvin Harris may have got all the girls, but I can name about 100 acts I would rather have seen do the pre-game musical extravaganza. Someone like The Killers, Kings of Leon or even some Kanye West or a bit of boom boom pow from the Black Eyed Peas. 

Toni Braxton (blast from the past) did the USA national anthem, but it was not that memorable, and Katherine Jenkins suitably warbled through God Save the Queen.

Not that I could see him very well but it was Welsh Boxing world champion Joe Calzaghe who was the Tampa Bay honorary captain who was involved in the coin toss.

We were now just minutes from kickoff…..

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Calvin Harris strutted his stuff at Wembley prior to the NFL game

 

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Some military people unfurled this giant Buccs flag - it looked great

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My wife and I were concerened the Tampa Bay Buccanners cheerleaders were all going back to Florida with colds

 

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Wearing a #1 Buccs shirt boxer Joe Calzaghe helped with the coin toss - joined by the team captains

After adjusting to the sensory experience of the marvels of Wembley Stadium it was time to spot the players from the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warming up for this regular season NFL game in London.

As is the tradition at all NFL games it is the kickers, punters, long snappers, holders and then the kick and punt returners that take the field first, and Wembley was no exception. It was quite fun to see Steven Gotskowski warm up, but I have to admit it wasn’t what I really wanted to see.

That sight came after the offensive teams hit the field to warm up, and a giant cheer warmed the stadium as the starters began to remove the travel cobwebs and get the blood pumping through their masculine North American shoulders.

It was then, through my zoom lens, that I spotted the most famous NFL player of the last 10 years, two time Superbowl MVP, three time Superbowl winner and four time Superbowl starting quarterback for the New England Patriots – Mr Tom Brady. It was worth the ticket fee alone just to say ‘I was there when Tom Brady came to England’.

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Tom 'the second coming' Brady warms up at Wembley Stadium, London

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#83 Wes Welker looks on as Tom Brady drops back to pass

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#81 Randy Moss chills out with Brady before the game in London

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Patriots offense v Patriots defense in Wembley warm-ups

The NFL Tailgate party at Wembley yesterday included some incredible prize draws to win a plethora of 2009 NFL gear, from signed shirts and signed helmets to signed balls.

Here is a selection of some of the signed helmets that you could have won. You just wrote your name, email address and phone number on a scrap of paper and put it in a post box below each piece of merchandise. Most NFL teams donated a signed object, and I have to admit I did enter about 10 different draws. Fingers crossed I get one of these…

Former #1 overall pick Carson Palmer the Bengals QB signed this helmet

Former #1 overall pick Carson Palmer the Bengals QB signed this helmet

 

The entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team signed this helmet

The entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team signed this helmet

 

5,000 yard passer Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints signed this one

5,000 yard passer Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints signed this one

 

This signed Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers helmet looked particularly impressive

This signed Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers helmet looked particularly impressive

 

Not sure who signed this Carolina Panthers helmet

Not sure who signed this Carolina Panthers helmet

 

The lone bright spot on the St Louis Rams roster RB Steven Jackson signed this mini-helmet

The lone bright spot on the St Louis Rams roster RB Steven Jackson signed this mini-helmet

Here I am at the Redskins stand with a giant Clinton Portis wall

Here I am at the Redskins stand with a giant Clinton Portis wall

Some of the fans dressed up - Nice sporran !
Some of the fans dressed up – Nice sporran !

This one one of the first scenes I saw at the NFL International Tailgate Party before the New England Patriots took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley yesterday.

The NFL made a genuine effort to impress the fans lucky enough to get Tailgate tickets.
Aside from a wide selection of food stalls and a big Coors beer tent there was a huge exhibition stand containing a video screen for all 32 NFL teams.
Some of the teams even  donated a signed shirt, helmet or ball that you had a chance of winning. Some of the exhibition stands are featured below.
A ball signed by Redskins TE Chris Cooley -  doubt Ill win it though

A ball signed by Redskins TE Chris Cooley - doubt Ill win it though

Even the Cleveland Browns have fans in the UK

Even the Cleveland Browns have fans in the UK

11.30 am –

The road to NFL football goes through Wembley Way !!!
The road to NFL football goes through Wembley Way !!!

Having stocked our bellies on a McDonald’s breakfast just outside Birmingham my wife drove us to Hillingdon Tube station, and for just £1.00 we parked the car for the afternoon.

 
1.30pm – The tube stop at Hillingdon was already gaining an eclectic mix of NFL fans as I spotted a Packers #12 shirt, a Falcons #33 shirt and Saints #24 top.
 
2.00pm – Walking down Wembley way always brings a smile to my face and now the new stadium proudly dominates the skyline with the giant arch. Very cool.
 
Despite some very dodgy scarves there were official merchandise stalls

Despite some very dodgy scarves there were official merchandise stalls

2.30pm – Having managed to walk down Wembley Way without getting drenched (pretty much a first) we headed to the tailgate party. Now the 2007 party was wisely indoors and was great fun. the 2008 version was goddam awful with a soggy beer tent and a few token ball tossing exhibits.
Some of the NFL branding on Wembley Way

Some of the NFL branding on Wembley Way

Lights Out is heading to Wembley - Pic by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images North America

Lights Out is heading to Wembley - Pic by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images North America

The San Diego Chargers have officially announced this afternoon that Shawne ‘Lights Out’ Merriman, their outstanding linebacker will ‘forego surgery on his knee’ to play in the 2008 NFL season.

This is fantastic news for all the NFL fans in England (and other parts of the UK and in Europe) who will make the annual pilgrimage to Wembley Stadium to see the Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints in London on October 26, in only the second NFL regular season game to take place in Europe.

Lights Out is a beast, a human wrecking machine, and 39.5 sacks in 42 career games is proof that he is a true superstar.

Only Merriman will know if he is kidding himself by saying that he will play through the pain. He does risk blowing his entire career, but with the 2008 NFL season just over a week away, its just too appetising for Shawne to not want to taste success.

The Chargers have a realistic shot at the Superbowl this season, and Merriman is one of the keys to victory, with his high adrenaline play and his ability to frighten the heck out of opposing teams.

It’s no coincidence that Merriman wears #56 after the Hall of Fame stud and former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. It was Taylor who redefined the game, making left offensive tackles get much bigger salaries.

Look at the #1 pick in the NFL draft this year – offensive lineman Jake Long. He was drafted to protect the quarterback from the likes of Merriman, as much as to clear the lanes for Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Having the NFL circus come to England in 2008 will again be special, waving a torch because Merriman will be looking to turn Drew Brees lights out makes it just that bit more special.

Merriman you are a brave man and NFLFANINENGLAND salutes your decision.

Good or bad idea – let me know……