On Sunday there was a sold out crowd at Wembley eager to watch a fierce football rivalry, however the likes of Rooney, Kane and Vardy were nowhere to be found. This was not your usual football match at Wembley and instead names such as Andrew Luck, Frank Gore and Allen Robinson headlined the show. This weekend marked the start of the NFL 2016 International Series in London.
The two teams on show in the fourth week were the AFC South’s Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars. This was unfamiliar territory for the Colts, with it being their London debut, whilst the Jaguars have been annual visitors to Wembley since 2013. The Jags came into the game looking for their first victory of the season, being designated as the home team, and although the Colts boasted a slightly better record over their division rivals (1-2), they were still sitting at the bottom half of the AFC South table.
Even though Indianapolis lost the coin toss, they still received the ball first as the Jags chose to kick off. The action started early, as a tipped pass from Fowler which was caught by Ngakoue gave the Jags great field position on the opponents’ 25 yard line. The Jags then capped off the drive with fake run play that led to Bortles easily finding Robinson in the end zone for the first points of the day.
Despite the Colts having more time of possession than the Jags in the first half, they barely broke into the opposing team’s half. Had it not been for the power and accuracy of 21 year veteran Adam Vinatieri’s boot, converting both of his long range field goals, the Colts would not have had any points on the board.
Jacksonville continued their dominance with 16 unanswered points in the second and third quarters courtesy of a Bortles touchdown and three field goals from Myers. The only highlight for the Colts during this period was that Gore moved up to tenth on the NFL all-time rushing yards leader board, with his 56 yards in the first half.
Both teams saved the best for the last, with a thrilling final 15 minutes. Just when Jacksonville’s first victory of the season seemed certain, Luck orchestrated a hurry up drive in the fourth quarter that stunned the Jags defence and led to Gore powering his way over. They followed up with another touchdown, this time through the air; Luck connecting with T.Y Hilton to make it a three point game.
However poor defence by the Colts led to Hurns completing a 42 yard passing touchdown, nullifying their previous effort. But minutes later, it was the Jags turn to concede with rookie Jalen Ramsey letting Dorsett go deep for a 64 yard touchdown to bring it back to three points. With three minutes left the Colts forced the Jags to punt the ball, but failed to put Vinatieri in range for the field goal to take the game into overtime, much to the dismay of the London crowd.
Whilst the Colts will feel like they have taken a step back with this loss, the Jags will hope this is the start of greater things to come. With a quarter of the regular season gone, Sunday’s results still leave the AFC South open with three teams having a 1-3 record and the Texans (3-1) being the team to beat for any real chance to go through to the playoffs.
Photo Credit: BBC