Well, game 2 of the NFL London 2017 series is now in the bag, as they say, along with last weeks game 1 and that’s both Wembley games done for another year.
The day started well as I was attending this game with my daughter who’s been a Dolphins fan for a while now and who actually got up in time to get ready so we could set off in time – wonders will never cease! We jumped in the car and set off on our merry way to London and what we expected to be a good competitive game.
After the just under two-hour journey, we parked up in our space on Mr Shah’s driveway, that I’d booked through the brilliant JustPark, and walked around the corner to the tube station and on to Wembley.
Once at Wembley Stadium, it was the usual disappointment of things to see and do pre-game but I’ve come to expect little else now after attending quite a few games and am happy to turn up just before kickoff and go straight to my seat. What’s with all the construction work going on around there at the minute. Anyone know what’s being built where the Green car park used to be and where some of the pre-game tailgate activities were? With this building work and the wet and windy weather, it wasn’t a great atmosphere outside the stadium if I’m honest. I feel like I’m supposed to try to big these events up, like Mr Reynolds and NFLUK do but, meh, best to be honest in my opinion.
After looking around the London Shopping Outlet area for a short time we went up to the small Tescos to grab a bit of lunch instead of paying the silly prices at the food stands dotted around the stadium. After that, we did a couple of laps of the stadium simply because we knew we were going to be sitting for quite some time on hard seats during the game.
Whilst on our laps of the stadium looking for something to do, we came across some rows of tents outside entrances D-F (something like that, anyway. I can’t remember exactly which ones) and upon closer inspection, they had the airport-style detectors in them for the fans to walk through.
What’s the crack with these things and why were they only on a few of the entrances and not all? I guess the people in those sections of the stadium felt safe at least, tsk. I can only assume they were trialling them for future games – it just seemed odd that they were only on those entrances.
What Clear Bag Policy?
Whilst I’m on the subject of security and safety; so much for the fecking clear bag policy that we’ve had drummed into us for several weeks now. I was pissed off to see that a guy in the row in front of me had been let in with a black rucksack! I thought, ‘If he fecks off and leaves that bag in his seat I’m going to go fecking mental!!!’. He did get up at around half-time but took his bag with him.
I assume the bag got searched but with everything that goes on in the world today and the lecturing the NFL and NFLUK feel they need to give us, to let someone in with that is a bit unnerving. It was especially annoying as my daughter was already worried enough about going to London in the first place.
New Orleans Saints @ Miami Dolphins
Like I say, when we started the day, we imagined we were going to be treated to a decent game of football but I must say that our disappointment started as soon as my daughter and I sat down and unravelled the flags they give us to wave. They basically look like a piece of Christmas wrapping paper on a stick, lol. I was particularly disappointed as I’ve been filling up one wall of my office with the flags from the games I’ve been to and to have a piece of wrapping paper randomly stuck up is going to look a bit shit, haha.
They did look decent at the game, though, when people could be arsed to wave them (which wasn’t often with the performance on the pitch we were being subjected to). It made me laugh that the sound of the rustling of the waving flags made more noise than the crowd on more than one occasion.
Anyway, to the game – this won’t take long!
Let’s start off with the final score just so you understand my boredom, annoyance and many other words like that. It was:
New Orleans Saints 20 – 0 Miami Dolphins.
I’ve defended the games in the past as I’ve been stuck in the mindset that we should count ourselves lucky to get these regular season games over here and be good little fans and keep giving them our money no matter the performances we get in return. But, you know what, this is only my fourth season as a season-ticket holder attending all the games each year and I’m starting to get a little bit pissed off. The two games at Wembley this year have been poor due to the performance of one team or another. I’ve never been a fan of the mouth-breathing Harbaugh brothers anyway but for the John one to go back to the U.S. and start bitching about facilities and coach journeys and not liking coming over here after putting on an absolutely shite performance like they did just makes my blood boil. Wow, you’re such a pro, John! It’s that kind of performance and attitude that we’re expected to pay good money to see? Hmm, I’m starting to question my loyalty to the NFL London thing if it continues.
It did continue this weekend as the Dolphins were as bad as Harbaugh’s Ravens had been the weekend before. They looked good on the first drive as passes and runs were involving many different personnel only to have QB Cutler throw an interception in the back corner of the endzone. It was on this drive that Jay Ajayi looked like he might actually be in for a decent game even with his dodgy right knee. He soon reverted back to the performance of the previous week against the Jets and was ineffective again. It’s only thanks to a couple of decent runs that his stats don’t look too bad, but we should all know by now that stats can be deceiving.
The Dolphins defence played well in the first half and it was scoreless right up until the end when the Saints managed to convert a field goal to go in 3-0 up.
It was this very low-scoring first half along with the incredible number of flags that were often followed by timeouts or delay of game calls that took the crowd out of the game. It was painfully obvious that the atmosphere had died due to the nature of this game – it’s always a bit weird anyway due to the split loyalties and neutrals. 19 penalties for 161 yards for both teams – it seemed like so many more!
It was the New Orleans Saints who came out after half-time and took over. It’s no exaggeration to say that they dominated the second half as they went on to score another 17 points to finish up battering the crappy Dolphins 20-0.
Although I was wearing my Dolphins jersey and cap I was happy to watch Drew Brees and the Saints offence as I find them to be entertaining. I really like the backfield combo of Mark Ingram as the workhorse and Alvin Kamara coming in as the change of pace back. Adrian Peterson is nothing more than a backup and I assume the Saints would snatch someone’s hand off if they came in with a trade offer for him. Bringing him onboard confused me right from the start.
For me, Alvin Kamara was MVP of this game with his 5 runs for 25 yards and 10 catches for 71 yards and a TD. Since the start of the season I’ve been hoping it would be he and Ingram working together in that backfield.
There really isn’t much more to be said about this game and my day at Wembley stadium other than, maybe there’s something to be said about the teams coming over to the UK at the beginning of the week before their game rather than on the Friday before it, right?
Didn’t the Jacksonville Jaguars come over early and the Baltimore Ravens late before theirs and then the New Orleans Saints on the Monday before this one and the Miami Dolphins on the Friday before it?
I suppose it depends on how badly a team wants the win and how much time they’re willing to dedicate to it and the NFL London series.
See You at Twickenham
We’ve got two more games to go and both are at Twickenham. I just hope we can get a better atmosphere going on inside that stadium again like we did for the Rams v Giants game last year. Anything’s got to be better than we usually get at Wembley, although we’re never going to have a really good atmosphere whilst there are so many neutrals in the stadium – which will always be the case in the UK.
Our next game is the L.A. Rams at ‘home’ to the Arizona Cardinals. This was one of my least favourite fixtures on this year’s series up until the regular season started and the Rams offence looks to be on fire. After the first two games of the series, I’m now hoping that this one could be the game of the series with a close-fought game.
I’ll be there making some noise for the home team Rams so, see you there!