Welcome back to another Into The End Zone round of up of the International Series. After such a great game last week (well for one team anyway), Wembley again played host to the International Series with game two of three. Two new teams finally made the trip across the pond for this week 7 match up with the Tennessee Titans lining up to take on the Los Angeles Chargers.
Unfortunately, due to some logistical issues, the ITEZ team didn’t make it down to the game early enough to take in the NFL tailgate party (*sad face*). We managed to purchase some game day merchandise from the shop closest to Wembley Central Station which seemed to have a relatively quiet queue (compared to last week’s game).
[Let us know how you got on this week, were there any improvements on the shop queues last week? Or did you guys make use of the click and collect? How did you get on with the NFL Event Pass?]
Sunshine over Wembley for Game Two
After passing through security (this time with all our belongings still in our possession after last week’s #umbrellagate) we took our seats in the blinding October sunshine and waited for the two teams to enter on to the pitch. The Chargers livery was everywhere around the ground as the team came out to loud cheers and some impressive pyrotechnics. After the traditional singing of the US (no kneeling but one fist raised in protest) and UK anthems it was finally time for FOOTBALL!
The game kicked off with the Titans receiving the ball (courtesy of Michael Badgley of the Chargers) at their 3-yard line, which was returned for an impressive 33 yard run by Darius Jennings. The Titans then went forward with a 5-minute drive topping off with a 28-yard field goal by Ryan Succop. The Chargers instantly responded with a monster 75-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Rivers to Tyrell Williams! Tennessee then stalled with a 3 and out with the Chargers taking over at their 22-yard line after taking a 10-yard penalty on the return. After an impressive drive, the Chargers could only add 3 points from the foot of Badgley.
The second quarter started as a mirror of the first, the Chargers impressive punt to the 4 yard line was returned to the Titans 35 by Jennings. They unfortunately could only add another 3 points with Succop on target again this time from 33 yards. The following Chargers drive never really got going with only managing one first down. After receiving the punt the Titans marched up the field and looked as if they may finally get their elusive touchdown, alas it was not meant to be as Marcus Mariota’s pass intended for Jonnu Smith was intercepted by Denzel Perryman on the Chargers 10 yard line. That pretty much wrapped up the first half with the Chargers heading in 10-6 up.
Half time came and went with both teams coming out thinking they could win here. The Titans kicked off this time putting the punt out for a touch back. With the Chargers starting at their 25 yard line Rivers threw a couple of short passes to Travis Benjamin and Austin Ekeler before he whipped out another massive 55 yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams!
The Titans responded on the next drive finally putting 7 points on the board with a solid 4 minute, 7 play drive with a 1 yard punched in touchdown by running back Derrick Henry. This has the makings of one of the most even London match ups we have witnessed with the scores now set at 17-13 to LA. Both teams settled down for the remainder of the third quarter with a drive each that never got going.
Drama at the Death – Right or Wrong Decision?
The first drive of the fourth quarter chewed up a large chunk of game time with the Chargers going for a 57 yard drive ending with a 28 yard field goal from Badgley. Each team had another drive resulting in punts before the Titans took over with 5 minutes left and needing a touchdown. With their rushing game finally looking alive they marched up the field with a 89 yard drive, with Mariota connecting on a 1 yard pass to Luke Stocker for a touchdown with just over the 30 seconds left in the game. Titans Coach Mike Vrabel and team then made the bold call of going for two points and the potential game winner. With 80,000+ people holding their breath they went for it but it was no good…. Until a late flag flew in and a holding call was called on Chargers CB Casey Hayward. The tension levels were insane as Tennessee elected to go for it again! This time the Chargers D was on it and the pass from Mariota was no good! The dramatic win went to LA with the final score 20-19.
What Do The Stats Say?
The stats for this one showed why the score was so close. Chargers QB Phillip Rivers was voted the man of the match with 306 passing yard completing 19/26 attempts and two touchdowns. Mariota also had an impressive game 24/32 completions with 237 yards passing and one touchdown but crucially couldn’t deliver when it mattered. The Titans dominated the rushing stats with Dion Lewis having 91 yards on the day (as you would expect with the Chargers leading back Melvin Gordon sidelined with a late week injury) but it was the Chargers who dominated through the air with Tyrell Williams having 118 yards from only 4 catches. The debate about whether the Titans should of gone for two or tied up the game I’m sure will be hotly contested but if I was Vrabel I think I would of made the same call.
That’s a Wrap for Game Two
So that sums up International series Game 2 at Wembley Stadium. Hopefully the great play and weather will hold up next week when the London-veteran Jacksonville Jaguars host the current Super bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. This one promises to be a great match up with both teams still having plenty to prove following their last years impressive feats and pits one of the league’s best defenses against offenses.
We hope to see you all down at Wembley Stadium on Sunday for another great game.