Lions and Falcons light the way for London NFL franchise

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Sorry to everyone on the West Coast who had to get up at 6:30, but the game at Wembley between the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons was a bigger success than even Roger Goodell could have possibly hoped for.

It also gave even more fire to the movement for a National Football League franchise based in London to come to fruition. 

But it's not just the quality of the game that was on show in England's capital, nor the great reception that a 9:30 ET start time got from football fans in the States, but the positive quotes from both Lions and Falcons players and staff members on their experience across the Atlantic with regards to the lack of jet lag and facilities in the country where another football rules.

Incredible Atmosphere

Back to the game though, which was an awesome spectacle to behold inside the 90,000 seater capacity stadium that sold out in about an hour. If you had any doubts about English fans not knowing the rules of the game, then they were cast aside immediately when the teams ran out onto the field.

On 3rd downs the noise level ratcheted up immensely. Earlier in the week, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell told me that he was happy playing the de facto home side Falcons in London rather than in the Georgia Dome where Matt Ryan is so dominant. 

I sincerely doubt he felt the same at full time, where despite getting the last second win, the game sure felt like the Lions were the away side, forcing Matt Stafford to a silent count on some third downs. The English really do know their football ladies and gentleman.

Player Feedback

Matt Stafford called the crowd in London "great" and that it really did feel like an away game. "I felt like Atlanta had a home crowd, which was impressive," the quarterback said after the win. "You didn't know what to expect coming in. But they were loud, and especially when we were way backed up or going into score. That's very similar to an NFL stadium in the States, so i was impressed with that."

"(It was) very similar to an NFL stadium in the States, so i was impressed with that."

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell would go on to call the potential for London "exciting" with the games being a gateway to the world. Ndamukong Suh even downplayed jet lag as a factor in the slow start Detroit made, with no Falcons players using it as an excuse either, which will be sweet music to Goodell and the 32 owner's ears.

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Atlanta Falcons
Detroit Lions

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