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The Jaguars and the Wembley Experience
I had the opportunity to travel to London last week, mostly as a tourist, but I obviously was excited that right in the middle of the trip that the Jaguars were playing. The excitement leading up to the game, for me, was tremendous and I remember waking up on game day being so excited.
As the game did not start until 6 pm local time, we did a couple of touristy things in the morning. Around 3:30 pm we headed off.
Jumped on the tube to make the "Grand Entrance". You exit at Wembley Park Station and make your way up Olympic Way.The walk up Olympic Way
The atmosphere, at this time, was ramping up. I want to say we got to the area around 4 PM local time and the tailgating and parties were going. The obvious beer sponsors had a huge tent where you could find all the beer you needed. A large number of food vendors were strewn about the NFL experience area and the main stage had a "Touchdown Dance" competition (If I remember correctly, the Irish guy won). I looked around and was in awe. A bucket list stadium and I am here to see my favorite team play at Wembley Stadium.
It was really fun to see the number of NFL jerseys in the crowd. If you have not had a chance to go to London for any of the NFL games, EVERY single team is represented -- some more than others -- and it is a sight to see. We walked around a bit to enjoy this, had an adult beverage and then made our way up the stairs to the main level concourse to actually enter the stadium.
Entering the stadium I was ready. I bought the souvenir program and had my tickets ready to get in. The group of 4 of us went in and went straight to our seats with about 55 minutes left until game time. Our seats were located on the club level in Block 236 -- essentially the same vantage point as my seats at Everbank Field but a little higher up.National Anthems and pre-game ceremony
The new Wembley Stadium has a Capacity of 90,000 fans and on this evening, the announced attendance was 83,603. As you can see by the picture above, the stadium is an amazing venue and the seats are full. I kind of figured, since they are used to their football, there is no movement until half time as you could see no one really left their seats during play.
As for an American football venue, more than enough room and great conditions. I know the local news was discussing the field conditions as the stadium has hosted three NFL games and was set to host an International Soccer event the following week. This was evident by the half time show which was about 20 or more individuals cleaning up grass and divots and filling in some sand in bigger spots. All pre-game festivities were conducted on a stage behind the Cowboy's bench and anything during the game was conducted on that same stage.
Like Everbank Field, there was a DJ playing during the game and he literally was on the stage for the whole game...just him....all by himself. It was funny to see and that is why I bring it up.
Overall, my expectations for the event were completely outdone and I hope that I have the opportunity, in the near future, to see another sporting event at this venue.
I have to say something about the game although I will not go into much detail.
A 1-8 team showed they were a 1-8 team and lost to a 6-3 team. Good enough? Right. Losing 31-17 to a team that is playing well is not saying much. The fact the Jags had so many mistakes is what really gets to me. I always talk about momentum. Momentum is the key to any sports and the Jaguars had it early.
On the Cowboy's first drive, they really marched down the field. If it wasn't for a pass that was just out of reach of tight end Jason Whitten, the beginning could have been worse. Instead, the Jaguars held Dallas to a 54 yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
On the very next possession, the Jaguars offense showed big signs and Denard Robinson had the momentum beginning play of the game as he scooted for a 32 yard touchdown to give Jacksonville the lead at 7-3.
On Dallas' next drive, the Jags held them and forced a punt. What a position to be in. Leading 7-3, just forced a punt and momentum is totally on their side. Then momentum changed really quickly as Ace Sanders drops the punt and it is recovered by the Cowboy's gunner. Three plays later, Cowboy's score a touchdown and they never looked back stretching the lead to 31-7 and the final score, as we all remember, was 31-17.
Did we learn anything
Plenty is learned. We learned that Jacksonville has to play perfect to compete. No turnovers, no missed passes (which there were many by Bortles) and no missed tackles (don't get me started). If missed tackles were a stat, we set the record in this game.
As I have said before, growth is there. The next step is showing the team they can succeed with how they are playing they just need to erase the mistakes. I would like to see how this team looks without any mistakes. Of course, any team would look great if they made no mistakes....I understand. This team really needs it, though.
They need that confidence booster game and they need it soon. there are only six games left in the season and the next one is against the division rival Indianapolis Colts and an offense that ranks #1 in passing with 344 yards per game. That does not bode well for our injury plagued defense that seems to be losing two players a week. The only thing you can do is keep the ball out of Luck's hands by sustaining drives. We will speak about this in a later post.
I want to say thanks for all the interactions during the London trip on twitter. I know I was out of pocket during the tourist thing the week after the game but it was fun chatting with everyone in our cyber-office.
If you want to see any more pictures, I will post a collage from the game in the next couple of days.
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