That’s three of the four NFL London 2017 games done and soon we’ll all be badgering the NFL to let us know who we’re getting over here in 2018.
But what about this game, the first to be played this season at Twickenham Stadium. Well, I’m not sure whether to start with the game or the stadium. I’ll start with the game and get straight to the point that it turned out to yet again be a very poor showing by one of the teams. We’ve had three games this year now and all three have, let’s be honest, disappointed. Yes, if you’ve chosen the Jaguars, Saints or Rams as the team you’re a fan of then you’ve been happy and rightly so but, as the atmosphere attests to in the stadiums, though, the crowds over here are made up mainly of neutrals. Because of the crowd makeup, if games carry on like this, I think the NFL London games can’t get to the new Spurs ground soon enough. I say this because I can see the more ‘fair weather’ fans spending their hard earned cash elsewhere and so a reduced sized stadium of 60,000 could be about the right size. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here but I’ve already seen a sharp increase in the number of critical comments on social media due to the standard of games over here this season. Personally, I love the game and will continue to go along and support the games and I can’t wait to go to the new Spurs stadium to watch two games a year there.
Anyway, the first question that this game raised for me was about Adrian Peterson and whether he was a flash-in-the-pan. After his brilliant first game for the Cardinals against the Buccaneers last week where he ran for over a hundred yards and a couple of TD’s, this week we saw he and his new team revert back to how they were before – no run game.
This week AP ran for a massive 21-yards on 11 carries for a 1.9-yard average – not good at all. Also, let’s be honest, once Carson Palmer went out of the game with what turns out to be a broken left arm the Cardinals had absolutely nothing and this was reflected in the scoreline.
The Arizona Cardinals looked ok on their first drive but the tone was set when they settled for what should have been an easy field goal for the rapidly declining Phil Dawson only to see him miss his only attempt of the game.
The LA Rams, on the other hand, had a good, steady game in which they moved the ball efficiently and converted their opportunities. I must say that I thought we were going to have a decent game as far into it as the end of the first quarter but by the middle of the third I’d had a few beers and the game just wasn’t holding my attention. Instead, I spent most of my time from there up until about two minutes from time talking to Dave the Bengals fan that I was sat next to. With me being a Browns fan I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out but I had a great time with some good chat and banter so cheers Dave for making the game more fun to be at.
The game was over before the first half was even near finished as the LA Rams had taken a 13-0 lead and Palmer had gone out of it and their run game was non-existent again and their defence was no match for the Rams very good offence. I’d gone down to the game expecting the Rams to win as the Cardinals haven’t looked like they were capable of stopping that offence but I really didn’t expect this. Only last week I was touting this as being the best game of the series now that Peterson was in the lineup and looking good, D’OH!
Another thing I noted was that this game at least breaks a trend that was forming of the team coming over on the Monday prior to the game beating the team that left it until the Friday. At least that’s one less argument for the people wanting to see a halt to these games I suppose.
Oh yeah, the score. It ended 33-0 to the LA Rams.
I feel like I should make comment about the tailgate area outside the stadium and if I was any kind of decent blogger I’d have made an effort to get there earlier and check it out. But, to be honest, I don’t go in for all that stuff as it isn’t proper tailgating but is rather lots of little businesses who’ve had to pay the NFL to be there charging their captive audience lots of money for whatever it is they’re selling. I actually spent my afternoon looking around the Imperial War Museum, which I’d thoroughly recommend to one and all – just be prepared for the Holocaust display, though. Wow, some really powerful stuff in there.
Right, back to football. I do get the impression that we’ve matured as an NFL fanbase and many people aren’t going to hang around at games like this. The atmosphere in the stadiums is something I’d like to see improve but won’t for as long as there is such a mix of fans, and when we get games like this, the atmosphere goes from being kind of awkward to non-existent. As well as the stadium starting to empty earlier and earlier each time a game like the three we’ve had this season so far happens. That’s not a knock on us Europen fans but more so on the product we’re expected to pay a lot of money to see. Anyway, all this kind of thing is fuel for another post so I’ll stop banging on about it here.
I will say, though, that I won’t be sorry to see the back of Twickenham as a host of these games. The infrastructure around the stadium is rubbish. Yes, they put on the shuttle buses but they can hardly fit down the residential streets when they come across each other going in opposite directions and I noticed they only just fitted around a couple of corners. Also, the shuttle buses from Hounslow Central dropped us off at a point outside the stadium and so after the game, we went back to that point expecting to get back on a shuttle bus that would return us to the same tube station. Oh no, the buses from there take you back to Richmond which is on a different line. It didn’t matter to us as we were just heading back into Central London but if you’re needing to get back to a certain place and needed to be on the Piccadilly line then it could have all gone wrong. Maybe I’ve missed the point but it just seemed daft and unorganised to me.
The stadium looks horrible from outside as well, I just don’t really like it. The noise inside, though, when there is some, is better than Wembley, in my opinion.
Not much more I want to say about this game and weekend really, except that I’m glad I wasn’t driving to and from the game. I live in the Midlands and getting away from Wembley is bad enough after a 2:30pm kickoff game so to drive away from Twickenham after a 6pm kickoff must have been awful in terms of what time you’d get home from what I saw of the traffic situation.
Another downside to the 6pm kickoff, for me, is the fact that the tube system starts to die-down on a Sunday at around 11:30pm which means less time in the pub or Hippodrome after the game watching the later kickoff games. I was hyped for heading to the Hippodrome after the game but found that it wasn’t worth it after the amount of time it took to get away from the stadium and into town.
Next week we have the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns coming to Twickenham Stadium to complete the 2017 NFL London series of games. Seriously, can anyone see this game being any different to any of the previous three? We have a contender for a playoff spot taking on the absolute worst team in the league (by some considerable margin). The Browns have hardly any offence and the Vikings have a fantastic defence and an offence that can score. Yes the Browns have a decent defence also but, seriously, is this game going to be any good?