2015 NFL International Series, Game 1
New York Jets 27-14 Miami Dolphins
@ Wembley Stadium, London, UK
The NFL international series returned on Sunday with yet another sell out at Wembley Stadium in London as for the first time ever a divisional rival game was held as the Miami Dolphins played host to the New York Jets.
This is my first trip of three to Wembley this year for the NFL and after attending the last five international series games I was looking forward yet another taste of real american football. This time though, unlike my other trips to Wembley, my other half made the trip with me to get a taste of a big sporting event and what better than the all action America-fest that is the NFL.
The Dolphins have a good fan base in the UK and were one of the franchises to play in the inaugural international series back in 2007 where they lost 13-10 to the New York Giants.
We arrived on the Saturday, 24 hours before kick off and headed down to the Fan Rally at Trafalgar square, which was a sea of jerseys from all 32 of the NFL teams but as I expected more Dolphins than others, also loads of Brady jerseys around… lovely! The stage had performances through-out the day from the Dolphins cheerleaders, with their racy video shoots, ex-players and of course the man who had the most hype over the weekend from the British media and fans, Dan Marino, a man who hasn’t played professional football in 15 years!
Sunday, Game Day! After a traditional full English, also enjoyed by some Jets fans from NY in our hotel, we jumped on the tube and headed to Wembley, picking up more NFL colours at every station and giving some of our friends from over the pond some directions. We arrived at Wembley Way to a sea of people, fancy dress, bag pipes (??), balls being thrown, food stalls and more, the atmosphere as experienced in previous games back again. No tailgate for this game, NFL UK opting for the fan plaza which I feel doesn’t work so well but enjoyable none the less.
We took our seats behind the end zone, just off opposite the Dolphins entrance tunnel. The stadium was filling up, music playing, players warming up, a buzzing pre-game atmosphere. I took the opportunity to ask the other half what she thought of it, her only previous “stadium” visits being, English National League Football (Soccer for the yanks) ,sides Forest Green Rovers & Cheltenham Town, so a bit of a step up in setting! She was excited for the game and was loving it all! I took the opportunity to explain the rules… well try to, and more importantly where the food & beer was!
Cheerleaders done, giant stars and strips and Union Jack flags done, national anthems observed and sang along, its game time! By the way after ten previous international series games, Brits still don’t know when the end of the American national anthem is!
Game on, Breakfast football in the states and from the start Miami looked like they didn’t have their Weetabix. Penalty flags early on allowed the Jets to push ahead. Through-out the first quarter Miami barely got in to the Jets half with failed drive followed by poor throw. The first half was a New York half with an incredible one handed catch from Decker for a 46 yard gain and impressive runs from Ivory.
The Fins weren’t out of it and they gave themselves a chance with a touchdown in the second quarter but again they shoot themselves in the foot with more penalty flags and poor offensive play. New York drove forward heading to half time with Fitzpatrick running through for a big gain, then throwing in to the end zone for a TD putting the Jets in charge going in to the break.
Second half and the Jets carried on adding another touchdown and Chris Ivory having a superb game running a career best on the day. Tannehill didn’t show up for the Fins, too many wayward throws and getting caught out cost them but Miami did get another touchdown in the final quarter and could have made it a closer game but for a poor throw on fourth and goal was intercepted in the end zone and that was that.
The Dolphins will be disappointed with that, and the British fans would have liked a closer game to the end but were treated to some excellent catches and plays from New York. A few comments I heard in the toilets during the fourth quarter sums it up for Miami, “The only entertaining thing the Dolphins had out there today is that giant Dolphin mascot!” To be fair that was entertaining, especially when it started bouncing around on its head.
This game had a more of a proper game feel about it, it didn’t feel like a one off game like the others did, perhaps the lack of the pre-game band or performer or the fact that we’re used to it now. I think its a good thing, we have accepted the game as a regular game, it was no loss not having a performer pre-match and if the UK wants a franchise, it needs to give the fans regular games, not make them feel like big Super Bowl style games. On the subject of a franchise, i’m personally more than happy with three games with different teams.
Another enjoyable NFL experience at wonderful Wembley, the girlfriend loved it too and actually knew what was going on… the basics, for the most of it! She’s a newly converted British NFL fan and even wants a Dolphins jersey, I know, even after that showing! Its the atmosphere of the international series which is addictive and perfect for couples, families, lads, ladies, everyone.
So next at Wembley I take my next love, Severn Sport’s very own Penno as we enjoy “London’s Team” The Jaguars, host the Buffalo Bills on October 25th and the UK games wrap up a week later on November 1st with The Atlanta Falcons hosing The Detroit Lions who return for second year running. They look like close match-ups, so fingers crossed for two close, competitive games for us Brits to enjoy!
Until next time!