Hello, world,

I watched the Redskins play the Eagles on my laptop as I got the night bus back from London, having seen Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham. It was a great game with the Eagles showcasing to the “football cognoscenti” why they have the best record in the league right now. It took a long time but with it being only £13 in total, my journey was as enjoyable as it was expensive. However, the Cardinals fans must have been thinking differently; they must have been as tired watching the game as I was when I reached home in the morning…

For those same Arizona fans, having seen their best player David Johnson get injured and be out for the rest of the season in the first game of the season. Must have been a hard pill to swallow. But on Sunday, star quarterback Carson Palmer left the game midway through the second quarter with a broken arm. The initial reports of the injury suggest that Palmer could be out any period of time and that recovery estimates were “up in the air”. This is terrible news for the Cardinals, and their fans who even before this game were enduring a difficult season; but have now fallen deeper into the depths of NFL obscurity with this injury.

As I foretold in my preview of this game, what the Cardinals needed to do to win was to establish their running game. Unfortunately, at Twickenham, this was as successful as watching the game without hearing American Football described by people around me as “Yeah…. almost it’s like rugby but with pads” It was maddening, to say the least. Adrian Peterson finished the game with 21 rushing yards on 11 carries. He was bottled up by the Rams, who exploited the clear weakness of the Cardinals their offensive line. LA had constant pressure on every play, whether it was men in the backfield as they ran the ball or hitting the quarterback when Arizona tried to pass the ball. The Rams defence set the tone early and it didn’t stop punishing Arizona all game long. What did not help Peterson’s case was that the Rams took the lead early on and his quarterback got hurt. Both of these meant that the Cardinals simply couldn’t run the ball as it would have wasted too much time already losing the game.

So with a running game that was utterly devoid of any success; the Cardinals had to throw the ball for almost the entire game, in fact, they only ran the ball 12 times. In the first quarter, Palmer did lead a 9 play 65-yard drive however it ended up with a missed field goal. That was the best it got for Arizona, with their the passing game drying up faster than water in the surrounding deserts of Glendale, Arizona. Palmer finished with a stat line of 10/18 for 122 yards with an interception and a QBR of 30.9. Drew Stanton who came in to replace him after the injury, finished with 5/14 for 62 yards also with an interception and an anaemic QBR of 11.2. This game was a write off for Arizona as soon as Palmer got injured with Stanton looking unprepared and overmatched against LA’s defence. He was abysmal for the Cardinals who’s season at this point is now a write-off. I see very little hope for success this year after watching this performance at Twickenham.

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On the other hand, this was a wonderful performance by the Los Angeles Rams. They did a great job on offence, quarterback Jared Goff came to Twickenham and delivered a sound performance. He had 225 yards passing, with one touchdown and one interception while gaining a touchdown on a 9-yard run. He didn’t have to do too much on Sunday as running back Todd Gurley had one of his best games this season. Gurley was the focal point of the Rams attack, running the ball he had 106 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown. He also had 4 catches for 48 yards. These may not be his most impressive numbers, but the Rams lent on Gurley throughout the game and the Cardinals knew this, yet couldn’t stop him. Gurley’s ability to make 3 or 4 yards per run on first and second down, gave Goff short and easy third downs to complete. The Rams went 13/19 on third downs meanwhile the Cardinals were a meagre 3/12.

With Gurley succeeding on the ground it gave Goff a solid platform to build off using play action. He completed passes to seven different players during the game, as the Cardinals feared that Gurley would run for a touchdown whenever he touched the ball. Gurley had the best play of the game with a wonderful 18 yard run for a touchdown, outrunning two defenders to reach the end zone and put the game on ice for the Rams with 5:25 minutes left in the first half! Goff will play harder teams this season but this game was a perfect encapsulation of his season so far with McVay. Nothing is too difficult in his scheme, it’s just allowing Goff to make the best decision with what is in front of him. Unlike under Fisher when any decision would have been a sign of progress…..

In conclusion, the Rams won this game comfortably as the score suggests. I would not hold out hope for the Cardinals this season as they looked about as comfortable to watch as a Donald Trump speech. But the Rams on the other hand now sitting at 5-2 look to be getting better and better each week. They could make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 if they continue like this. It was a great game and a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to go again!

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NFC, NFL, NFL UK, Review

My Main Takeaways from Jaguars vs Bills. International Series Game 13

American Football, Blog, NFL, NFL UK, Review

Hello World!

It was a great game between the Bills and Jags at Wembley, with a splendid atmosphere reverberating around the stadium as fans of both teams and NFL in general rallied around an exciting ending. So here are my takeaways from the game.

  1. EJ Manuel isn’t an NFL player at all….

How does this guy have a job in the NFL? It’s insane. He could barely hit his receivers all game and hardly put five passes together for a drive. He had a thread of calamitous plays which started with his drive with a 9 yard pass too low for Robert Woods to make any yards after the catch on 2nd & 18; then on the next play, he failed to see the blitz,  got hit and fumbled, and it was taken back for a touchdown by Chris Clemens.  It was kicked off to the Bills who knelt the ball down. Then, on the first play of the drive from their own 20, Manuel throws a horrible pick 6 where he stares down his receiver and Telvin Smith sits in his zone watching Manuel’s eyes, then takes it to the house for a 21-3 lead. It was just an awful, awful read by Manuel. To put it into perspective, Manuel conceded 2 touchdowns in only 7 seconds of play, but to make matters even worse he then throws another interception only 2 minutes later to Paul Posluszny on 3rd & 16. He did rally them back well for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns and a comeback but ultimately performed very poorly in place of Tyrod Taylor.

2. TJ Yeldon was a star!

He injected some wonderful pace and decisiveness into the Jags’ offence. While Bortles only completed 13 passes for 182 yards on 29 attempts, it was Yeldon’s running that moved Jacksonville down the field with 115 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown giving him 5.8 yard per carry. His longest run of the day was a beautiful 28 yard run for a touchdown where he patiently waited for a gap, broke a tackle in the backfield and then took it to the house. I haven’t a clue what was going on when Greg Olson decided to put in Toby Gerhart to try and get him a touchdown inside the 1 yard line. Yeldon had been playing so well for the whole game and would have found the endzone to seal the win. So expect more from Yeldon throughout the season as he impressed here.

3. Flags…..

Throughout the game both teams were very guilty of committing penalties, with the Bills committing 10 for 87 yards and the Jags also committing 10 for 66 yards. The majority of these were very petty, either delay of game, holding or offside. But I believe the refs got the momentum-changing decision wrong with a very questionable pass interference call on Bradley Roby. With 3:15 to play on 3rd & 15, Brian Walters for the Jags ran an out-route with Roby on his coat tails all the way towards the side line, Bortles threw the pass just ahead of both of them out of bounds. The refs felt though that as Walters leapt towards the ball Roby pushed him, so called pass interference on him. It looked very questionable on the replay that Roby even touched Walters at all! So the Bills can feel aggrieved about that decision as it gave the Jags a lifeline to win the game especially as throughout the whole game they didn’t look like converting a 3rd & 15 at all!

4. Standings!

As the Jags won, it now puts them at 2-5 on the season, tied 2nd in the AFC SOUTH and surprisingly only a game back from the Colts, their next match being against the Jets. So I’m predicting that even with this victory and some momentum, they won’t have enough offensive fire power to get past the top defense in the NFL especially in New York. Now the Bills fall to 3-4 and last in the AFC EAST. Luckily for the Bills they now have their bye week giving their star players time to rest and recover especially Tyrod Taylor who they desperately need. After that they have Miami at home which is a must win for both teams so that will be an exciting matchup!

I was thrilled to be at my 3rd International Series game which was unexpectedly exciting! Can’t wait for next time….

Happy Halloween everyone!