London ready to welcome NFL again
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Wembley Stadium plays host to the second of its three NFL games of the season on Sunday and fans will be hoping that they are treated to a better game than last week’s one-sided contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.
At least the Raiders coach John Gruden – appointed earlier this year for his second stint in charge – was not sacked before the plane landed back in California following the 27–3 defeat – as happened when Oakland last visited England a few years ago.
One positive, at least in the eyes of the NFL, was the attendance at Wembley being a new-stadium record of 84,922.
The game this week, which kicks-off at 2.30pm, features the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers.
Los Angeles, who are in their second season in the city following their move from San Diego, are struggling to fill their stadium and rumours abound regarding a possible move away.
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On the field, with Philip Rivers continuing to shine at quarterback, the Chargers are one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the American Football Conference (AFC) West, while Mike Mariotta quarterbacks the Titans who are tied at the top of the AFC South.
Last weekend, the Chargers beat the much-improved Cleveland Browns 38–14 to move to 4–2, while the Titans were held scoreless by the rampant Ravens defence at they lost 21–0 in Baltimore.
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Melvin Gordon, a flashy running back, scored three touchdown against the Browns, as Rivers threw for two other scores, while in the receiving corps is the legendary tight end Antonio Gates, now in his 16th season.
It is likely that both Gates and Rivers will end up in the Professional Football Hall of Fame when they retire.
As for the Titans, a big-name signing in the off-season was fifth-year defensive back Malcolm Butler, who won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, claiming the game-winning interception against Seattle in his rookie season (2014).
Travel experience will count for nothing as this is Tennessee’s first visit to London and the Chargers’ only previous game at Wembley was back in 2008, when they lost a 37–32 shoot-out against New Orleans.