Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
The National Football League (NFL) waved goodbye to London for another year as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans 24-16 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
While officially listed as a home game for the Titans, London sounded like a home away from home for the Baltimore faithful. The rapturous Ravens fans brought the noise from start to finish as they witnessed their team win the last of the three games held in the English capital this season.
The Ravens’ star quarterback Lamar Jackson agreed and called the travelling flock “crazy,” while Baltimore coach John Harbaugh also acknowledged the “great crowd,” postgame.
As ever when the NFL takes its talents overseas, the stadium was packed to the rafters with fans donning their sporting Sunday bests. Normally dominated by the white of Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier League team which plays its home games here, the stadium was transformed into a colorful rainbow of random jerseys from around the NFL.
While most of the 61,011 fans packed in to the 62,850-seater stadium had different allegiances and, as found out during a game in an interval, came from different parts of the world, one thing they had in common was a love for the game of football.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has become accustomed to hosting some of soccer’s biggest stars and with kicking proving key, this game of football looked more like what local fans are used to seeing.
With both offenses struggling to find their groove in the red zone, the kickers from both franchises were wheeled out on a regular basis to get points on the board.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker had a huge night and added a mammoth 18 points to his team’s tally. The 33-year-old made all six of his field goal attempts and the points added from his boot were crucial as the end zone proved hard to breach for much of the afternoon.
Titans kicker Nick Folk also scored an impressive 10 of his team’s 16 points as the Titans disappointed on their trip to London.
While the fans weren’t treated to an instant classic, you would not have known from the atmosphere in and around the ground.
There were just two touchdowns but each one was greeted by deafening cheers and applause.
Zay Flowers added the first of those touchdowns after he latched on to a pass from quarterback Jackson just before the end of the first half. The rookie bundled his way into the end zone and the Ravens went into the interval in complete control with an 18-3 lead.
Titans fans were given renewed hope in the third quarter as star running back Derrick Henry added a touchdown following one of his vintage, powerful runs. However, it wasn’t to be enough as Tennessee’s hopes faded when quarterback Ryan Tannehill was withdrawn from the game through injury.
Despite the lack of end zone action, the crowd made their presence known at every possible opportunity, drowning out the speakers as “Sweet Caroline,” an American classic adopted by the sporting scene in England, was blasted midway through the match – perhaps a symbol of this transatlantic relationship.
Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” also received similar receptions with what felt like the entire crowd screaming along to every word.
Coach Harbaugh said postgame that he particularly loved the signing as his side secured their first win in London.
As the game ended, it was clear the party was just beginning. Fans were in their seats well past the game’s conclusion, showing their respect and appreciation for the players in what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those watching and playing.
London has become a second home for the NFL and thoughts of a London-hosted Super Bowl has been discussed by those running the game.
“It is not impossible, and it is something that has been discussed before,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at a London fan forum, per ESPN.
“I think that is not out of the question. But at the end of the day, I think right now our formula will stay the same about playing [Super Bowls] in cities that have franchises,” Goodell added.
If a history-making Super Bowl did make its way to London, one thing’s for sure – no matter which two franchises end up playing for football’s biggest prize there would be no shortage of fans on this side of the pond, as seen across the last three games held in London.
It is also not just the English capital that has the privilege of hosting overseas NFL games with the ever-expanding NFL International Series heading to Germany next.
The Miami Dolphins will play reigning Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, November 5, and the Indianapolis Colts will clash against the New England Patriots a week later at the Frankfurt Stadium, Frankfurt.