Seattle Seahawks vs Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium
By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com
These teams were once divisional rivals as they both played in the AFC West, of the American Conference. Playing this game in London has challenged both fan bases to travel a long distance to support their team today, and that their fans did just that! Both fans bases showed up in droves to support. They were each accompanied by fans of many other NFL Football teams, from the UK and surrounding countries.
I’d say this was great planning on the part of the NFL. As both these teams a rabid fan base that is enthusiastic about their team. Even though there were many fans of other NFL teams at the Stadium on Sunday, they all came to see American Football being played in London. Both fan bases were cheering very loudly, as each team took the field.
The Seahawks received the ball first. On their first drive, they converted 3 first downs, by running the ball right up the middle of that Raiders defense. The Seahawks appeared to capitalize on some miscommunication on the Raiders defense. They then capped off their drive with a 5-yard TD pass to 6 WR Jaron Brown.
As they Raiders lined up for their first drive it quickly became evident which fan base was loudest in their support for their team. Two short runs and then a QB sack couldn’t have been what Gruden and coaching staff was looking for to start the game, which emboldens the Seahawks. A shanked punt followed the sack on third down, giving the Seahawks the ball back with great field position, and only gave those animated Seahawks fans more to cheer about.
After the Seattle punted the ball on their subsequent possession… the Raiders got the ball back but their drive was stripped short by a sack-fumble on Clarks first sack of the day. Giving the Seahawks the ball inside the Raiders 25-yard line. On third down, after Russell Wilson muffed the snap he was able to find the ball and hit his open receiver in the end zone, for the Seahawks second touchdown. This touchdown gives the Seahawks a 14-0 lead.
The Seahawks fans in the building are relentlessly giving the Raiders offense an earful. On second down as Raiders Amari Cooper couldn’t hold onto to ball and then blasted by Seahawks safety McDougald and had to be helped off the field. The hit applied by McDougald was the exact helmet to helmet hit the league has been trying to legislate out of the game. Luckily Copper was able to get up a jog off the field.
If the league wants to get rid of the helmet to helmet hits, they should really consider making a rule the forces the players to wrap up the ball carrier. Being forced to wrap up the ball carrier would force the tacklers to use their arms and shoulders when making a tackle; not their helmet! Not only would this reduce the amount of head to head hits, but the tackling in the league would also improve. As many defensive players look for the big hit versus a great tackle.
That hit seemed to awaken the Raiders offense as the then picked up 2 consecutive first downs. After Carr scrambled for another first down the Raiders were forced to kick a field goal, which
they subsequently missed… leaving the score at 14-0. The Seahawks then ended the first half with a Janikowski field goal; giving the Seahawks a 17-0 lead going into halftime.
The second half began with Raiders receiving the kickoff. On the first down of the drive, Carr was sacked and stripped of the ball giving the Seahawks the ball in prime territory. This led to another Seahawks field goal extending their lead to 20-0.
After a series of punts by both teams, the Russell Wilson throw his 3rd TD of the game to his speedy receiver Tyler Lockett. To give them a 27-0 lead. To close the gap the Raiders were able to get a field with over 6 mins in the game.
When asked about the hit on Cooper which knocked him out the game, Gruden stated “He’s a great kid. We had a big completion to him early in the game; that, too, was called back. So, any time we got anything going, it was either called back or we got sacked and losing Amari Cooper the way we did, I just hope he’s okay.”
I tried to press Gruden on my idea to force tackler to wrap up vs launching their bodies, would reduce the head to head hits, he responded by stating “You know, I’ll have to take a good look at the play, okay. I think we’re doing everything we can to make this game as safe as possible, but it is still very physical at times and I have nothing else to say about it right now.”
With over 85,000 fans in attendance at Wembley Stadium for this game. The Seahawks fans seemed to drown out the Raiders fans throughout the game. Many of the Seahawks players were emphatic in stating that their loud fans help them on the field.
Russell Wilson mentioned, “just to see how many Seahawks fans traveled all the way from Seattle to here, and just how many fans around the world. There were fans from obviously, London, Seattle, New York, Germany, all these different places to come see us play. And you know, the Seahawks fans travel the best in the world. It was just an amazing experience to play here in London.”
When Doug Baldwin was asked about his thoughts on the Seahawks fans traveling to see them play, “It’s crazy. It’s crazy. To fly all the way over here to support this team, I mean, it’s phenomenal, you know. It shows their dedication, and I’m sure they’ve got a vacation out of it too. They better have.”
“Ah, man, you gotta love the 12’s!” preaches Shaquille Griffin when speaking of the Seahawks fans that traveled to London to support them. “We gotta continue to shout them out; and continue to play and fight hard.” “To come way over here and continue to support, you know, we supposed to the away team, that’s the crazy part; this felt like a regular home team game so I gotta give another shout out to the 12’s.”
When asked about the progression as a team Shaquem Griffin, “I feel we are starting to create an identity. Hitting hard and playing as fast as possible and enjoying it while doing so. Obviously, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. As we progress, we are starting to show who we really are.” In reference to the Seahawks fans traveling, “that’s what
the 12’s are all about! You know, it’s 11 guys out there, but the 12’s are always behind us… when you got a crowd that comes with you wherever you at; it’s hard for a team to beat that!”
As the NFL continues to expand their reach, it’s nice for them that they are able to fill their 85,000-seat stadium with raving fans. Though there are many NFL fans here in Europe, there are many more Soccer fans in the neighboring countries. As I paraded around town in the days leading up to the game, many locals were oblivious to the fact that the NFL was in town and about to play on Sunday. Though NFL Europe ended years ago, there remains a contingent of American football fans that truly enjoy the wonderful game we Americans affectionately call the NFL. Please reach out and let me know your thoughts on the NFL playing in game abroad and What’s Good by commenting in the comment section of this article at www.whatsgoodinsports.com.