First, a couple things about the feasibility of an NFL franchise in London: Overall, I’ll say that I’d rather see a team in Vegas or LA first, but I think the logistics are there for a team in Europe. The travel is comparable to a cross-country flight for most teams and the interest does seem to be there. Additionally, if there is only one team overseas, the novelty of going to the games will continue to sell out the stadium… which every demo game over the past three years already has; this year Wembley sold out in 6 minutes. The downfall is generally personnel related, asking 53 families, plus coaches, staff and front office guys is a big thing to demand. Plus the TV production teams, stadium personnel and game officials. The need for NFL camera & production teams was overtly apparent, given that the audio, visual and actual camera angles were incredibly poor.
The game itself… was fun to watch, even though Brady doubled his interception total on the season (2 INTs), he put 3 in the endzone and completed the longest play of the season to Sam Aiken, which was the best play of the game for a couple reasons: 1- It was Aiken’s first career score, 2- It was a great run after catch, and 3- Brady showed serious vintage quality. With a heavy pass rush being pushed downfield by the O-tackles, as the end became to come around, Brady sensed the pressure from behind, slid forward with great pocket mobility, set his feet and delivered a powerful strike to a small window for the completion.
Brady was great even after a long wait to get in the game, Merriweather took a pick six off the first play of the game and the defense was stifling from then on out. Darius Butler had another interception and Tully Banta-Cain celebrated his reunion with the team by leading the defense with 5 tackles (along with Mayo & McGowan).
I was also encouraged to see Brandon Tate contributing positive return yards and showing some good bursts on an 11-yard end-around run and a great deep route that he didn’t end up connecting on. That Welker guy led all receivers with 100+ yards on 10 receptions and Sebastien Vollmer, the online European-born played on the field, also protected well and drew a great deal of media attention which he handled very well.
If you have some time, I suggest Googling around the London Times to read the British coverage form the British perspective, they loved hosting the game and were a great host City.
The Patriots head into their bye week with a 5-2 record, solid momentum and have reminded the rest of the NFL that they ARE in the elite tier of competitors and they are hungry for football wins.