|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NFL The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are used to long road trips. They are two of the NFL's just six franchises not located in the Eastern or Central time zones.
But the two teams traveled nearly 5000 miles to play a game of football at Wembley Stadium this season. It was the fourth straight season in which the bohemian Wembley, equivalent to a place of worship for England soccer fans, hosted an NFL regular season game as part of the league's effort to increase its popularity and visibility outside of the United States.
The game itself was not particularly interesting. Both teams struggled early on, with San Francisco taking a 3-0 lead into halftime. Midway through the third quarter, Denver quarterback Tim Tebow plowed over the left side of the line to score the game's first touchdown from 1 yard out. It was the former Florida Gator's second career touchdown in the NFL.
After the Broncos added a 32 yard field goal to take a 10-3 lead, San Francisco's newly appointed starting quarterback Troy Smith led his team back, contributing to two of the squad's three fourth quarter touchdowns. Frank Gore, who paced the San Francisco offense with 118 yards on 29 carries, scored the final 49ers touchdown from 3 yards out. Despite a late touchdown catch from Denver's Brandon Lloyd, it was San Francisco that got to enjoy the 13 hour flight back home after their 24-16 win. Fresh off a fourth consecutive sellout at Wembley Stadium, the NFL vice president of international business is optimistic the league will be playing multiple regular-season games in Britain.
The San Francisco 49ers rallied to beat the Denver Broncos 24-16 Sunday in the NFL's fourth regular-season game in London according to sportsbook.
And with a more than 84,000 fans packed into Wembley, Chris Parsons already has started thinking of ways to keep the momentum going. Parsons said the NFL will talk to owners in January or February about a game next year. But he says the decision could be delayed by the collective bargaining agreement talks. The CBA negotiation makes the deal more complex in the planning, which requires more patience going forward. It may be a year, or two, but Parsons is eager to create a multi-game schedule.
Eight of the league's 32 teams have been to London to play an NFL game at Wembley, home of England's national soccer team. Although the NFL has not made an announcement on 2011, at least one more game is expected. If the opinion of the players mean anything, there will certainly be more games in the British capital. Besides talk of adding a second game to the overseas schedule, possibly in Cardiff, Wales, or Edinburgh, Scotland, the NFL also has been considering the prospect of creating a franchise based in London.
According to Parsons, it won't be anytime soon. Another option for the NFL is playing games in other countries, such as Germany. The country had five of the six teams in the NFL's European development league before it folded in 2007. Although Parsons predicted that a game in Germany would be a success, he said the league was waiting for the right time.