The 2018 NFL international series kicked off on Sunday with the Oakland Raiders hosting the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium. We, here at Into The End Zone, wanted to share a game recap with all those who couldn’t make it down to this year’s home of the NFL right here in the UK.
Despite the last minute venue change and the best that the Great British weather could throw at us, fans came out in droves to see these two teams showdown in our nation’s capital.
NFL Fun before the game
As is now tradition at the Wembley games, the NFL had put on a host of activities around the stadium. On the outskirts was the Lab & Dash which puts you against the league’s best players in a series of physical challenges. Unfortunately, due to the weather and health and safety instead of dash it was more an opportunity to show off your most hilarious/coolest walk depending on what approach you and your friends felt like taking.
We found, similarly to previous years, that the best way to make the most of all this pre-game entertainment was to download the NFL Event Pass presented by Subway (iOS App here and Android App here). As well as being filled with lots of information and social activities, you can also scan your Fan Mobile Pass at activations to unlock badges to earn chances to win exclusive NFL prizes. The more badges you earn, the more prizes you have a chance to win.
The biggest change I noticed this year compared to previous was the lack of alternative merchandise shops around the stadium leaving the main NFL store with such a big queue – it was beyond belief! I cannot recommend click and collect enough if you know what you’re after. When we headed there in front of us was a queue of about 6 people and we were in and out in a flash! It means you have more time to check out the other activities rather than being rained on stuck in a queue!
Also in place for the first time this year were new fan zone entrances. Wembley has been effectively split into four zones; Yellow, Green, Blue and Red. Each of these now has only one entrance which you must follow to gain access to your gate and then your seats. Also, be prepared for much more thorough security checks as one of the ITEZ team and lots of others found out by the pile of confiscated umbrellas at the metal detectors #umbrellagate.
Once inside and in your seat, the pre-game entertainment kicked off with Jess Glynne performing a selection of her songs. While she’s not an artist I would personally choose to listen to, she sure knows how to belt out a tune! Jess definitely seemed to be a crowd pleaser.
It’s time for the main event!
After the entrance of both teams and the national anthems of both the US and the UK, it was on to the main event – the football! The game kicked off with the Seahawks receiving the ball. They wasted no time in marching straight down the field with a 14-play drive ending in a touchdown. If anyone thought the Hawks were going to show some international series mercy against their opponents, they were mistaken!
The Raiders failed to respond in kind and only managed a disappointing 3 and out. This would be a sign of things to come for the seemingly outnumbered Raider nation!
The first quarter continued back and forward until with 29 seconds left Jarran Reed recovered a fumble by the Raiders on the Oakland 24-yard line. Seattle was ruthless in their execution with a 19 -yard touchdown pass from Wilson to David Moore, putting them 13 – 0 up. Janikowski (who definitely had his eye and leg in) put the extra point away with ease.
The Raiders offense never really got going in the first half after another fumble (which this time they managed to recover) they went for it on 4th and 1 but was no good. Seattle then took over and rounded it off with 3 more points courtesy of a 44-yard field goal from Janikowski.
It was like Deja vu in the third quarter with another Raiders Fumble! This time recovered by Jacob Martin at the Oakland 11 yard line. With a penalty and a big sack by Oakland, they managed to limit the Hawks to only 3 more points from the big man with a 26-yard field goal.
The score stayed at 20 – 0 for the remainder of the third quarter. We would have to wait until the last drive that continued into the fourth which ended in…. you guessed it another Seattle touchdown! Courtesy of a 10-yard pass to Tyler Lockett.
Finally some good news for the Raiders fans in the next drive they finally ended the shutout with an impressive drive that stalled on the Seattle 17-yard line. After two sacks in a row, Carr went off on 4th down into the medical tent holding his non-throwing arm. Matt McCrane stepped up and got the 3 points on the board with a 43-yard field goal. Thankfully Carr seemed to be ok afterwards but it’s a shame he didn’t get to go for it on 4th down.
The Seahawks then used their final drive to hold on to the score line of 27-3 with some great clock management, with a drive lasting 7:46 until play was finally called.
Seahawks looked good, Raiders did not …
Throughout this game, Seattle were in complete control from start to finish. Six times they sacked Derek Carr, no wonder there were potential injury concerns!
The Hawks offense is finally clicking with the OL giving Wilson enough time to work some of his QB wizardry. Few positives can be taken for the Raiders, they look sloppy on D and never got going forward at all. For Raider nation, it must have been more disappointing being outnumbered at a ‘home’ game.
The Seahawks special teams would run the full length of the field after punts regardless of where the ball landed and get a huge positive reaction from the crowd. It truly shows the presence and willingness to travel of the oh so famous 12th man of Seattle…. the fans. The only chants to be heard before during and after the game were Sea Hawks! Sea Hawks! Sea Hawks!
So that sums up International series Game 1. This weekend (Week 7) the LA Chargers host the Tennessee Titans and we hope to see you all down at Wembley Stadium for hopefully another great game of football!