By Jacob Toland
Philadelphia Eagles defeated Jacksonville Jaguars 24-18 at Wembley Stadium with a record NFL crowd of 85,750 attending.
The game was played amidst the backdrop of the helicopter tragedy at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, which killed five people and the shooting in Pittsburgh which claimed the lives of eleven people. A minute’s silence was held followed by a children’s choir signing the national anthem.
This was the third and final game of the year to be held at the stadium. Those games were held over a three week period with Seattle Seahawks taking on the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans playing the Los Angeles Chargers.
The heavy activity was starting to have an affect on the pitch which angered many football fans ahead of the upcoming Monday Night Football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the Premier League.
The defending Super Bowl champions condemned the Jaguars to their fourth loss in a row which will have turned a bad weekend into a very bad weekend after four Jacksonville players were detained by police for nine hours after failing to pay a bill of £50,000 to a London nightclub.
It was an intriguing start to the game with Eagles quarterback fumbling under pressure. Eagles also lost right tackle Lane Johnson with a knee injury.
Despite their shaky start, it looked like they were only going end the first-half 6-3 down until Wentz found Dallas Goedert after a fumble by Keenan Cole for a 32-yard touchdown to put the Eagles 10-6 up at half-time.
With Philadelphia leading 17-15 with 13 minutes remaining, Wentz put the game to bed with his third touchdown of the afternoon. The Jaguars still had time for a consolation field goal to reduce the deficit to 24-18.
Stuart Malone, 21, who is an NFL fan, attended the game. He was impressed with the spectacle of the game:
“It was a great atmosphere. This is probably the first game I have been to where a lot of the American fanbase has come over, especially the Eagles fans, so that really created a good atmosphere.
“It was a brilliant game, it was end to end stuff. The first half was a bit slow but it picked up after the break.
“Both teams performed quite well, the Eagles best players were between Carson Wentz and Malcolm Jenkins but I’ll probably give it to Malcolm due to the impact he had on the game, he was constantly making tackles.
“The Jags best player was Telvin Smith, the linebacker was the same as Jenkins. He made a big impact and was constantly going in for tackles.”
Stuart is looking forward to the next games being held in London and can’t wait to go back:
“I would definitely go back for another game. I’ve been to three games at Wembley now and one at Twickenham.
“The Twickenham game was not as good an atmosphere compared to Wembley. The first time two times I went to Wembley, it was amazing but this game between the was something else.
“One thing that I noticed that is taking away from Wembley at the moment is the development work going on at the start of the Wembley Way and they are building flats all around the place.
“I think that takes away from a bit of the buzz at the start but once you’re in the stadium, it’s brilliant.”
Andrew McBride, 21, was also at the game and supporting the Eagles and was pleased with how the day turned out:
“I thought it was a good game, it was very even at the start as both teams held each other to field goals for most of the first half then Eagles started to take control and score a couple of TDs.”
When asked to pick out his star players, Andrew replied:
“The Eagles star player was easily Wentz, he controlled the offence with accurate throws, solid decision making and was able to show his running ability as well whilst Jaguars star players was not as obvious but I’d highlight both Bortles and Lambo.
“Bortles seemed to use his running ability in the first few drives whereas Lambo contributed mostly to the Jags points on the day and kicked his longest ever field goal – 57 yards I believe.
“The atmosphere was good especially around where we were sat, I thought it would be a mix of fans of all teams but it appeared that we were sat in the Eagles fan area.
“What helped the atmosphere was that former players and celebs were stationed near us as we saw the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Rob Beckett, Romesh Ranganathan and Jon Dorenbos who brought along his Super Bowl Ring for fans to see.”
When asked about the prospect of a full-time franchise being introduced to London, Andrew was not so sure as to whether it would work out:
“I think a London franchise, as much as it would be desired, wouldn’t be a smart move. The main issues would be the distance to travel for the team to play other NFL teams as well as other teams to visit the UK.
“As much as there is a desire for UK fans to have their own team, I believe that if NFL Europe was restarted, it would work better for both the NFL and UK based NFL fans.”
It has also been announced that London will host four NFL games for the 2019 season with two games being held at Wembley with the other two being played at Tottenham’s new stadium.