The NFL has been playing games in London since it began its International Series back in 2007. This week, the Los Angeles Chargers get a “home” game at Wembley Stadium.
The Tennessee Titans will provide the opposition for the Chargers, a team coming in after being shut out by the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. The Chargers are riding a three-game winning streak so hopefully the long trip across the pond won’t cool them down.
This will be the Chargers’ second game played in London, as they were part of the second game in the history of the International Series. Here, we look back at that game.
October 26, 2008
Over 83,000 fans flooded into Wembley Stadium wearing Chargers jerseys and some wearing jerseys of their opponents that day, the New Orleans Saints. For that matter, jerseys of every one of the 32 NFL teams was seen in the stands as the NFL was attempting to grow the game globally.
The fans weren’t disappointed on this day, as they got perhaps the best NFL game ever played in London. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, the Saints were victorious on this day.
The Chargers had a very up and down season that year, getting off to an 0-2 start, hindered in part because of a terrible call by referee Ed Hochuli that helped the Denver Broncos beat the Chargers in Week 2.
The Chargers smashed the New England Patriots by 20 points in Week 6 before being defeated by the Buffalo Bills the following week. They then headed to London to battle the Saints, a team with a 3-4 record at the time.
Former teammates Philip Rivers and Drew Brees went back and forth in this one in a game of who would flinch first.
After exchanging field goals in the first quarter, Brees hit Devery Henderson on a 12-yard touchdown pass. Moments later, Deuce McAllister ran in a 1-yard touchdown to put the Saints up by two scores.
Rivers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to LaDainian Tomlinson on the Chargers’ next possession but Brees answered with a 30-yard strike to Lance Moore. Knowing he needed something before halftime, Rivers found Antonio Gates for another 12-yard score.
The Saints led 23-17 at halftime but Brees found Mark Campbell for a touchdown shortly after the third quarter started. Nate Kaeding kicked a 24-yard field goal late in the third quarter and the Bolts went into the final frame down 10 points.
It didn’t get much closer. Mike Karney ran in a 1-yard touchdown on the Saints’ next possession. Kaeding kicked another field goal and then the Chargers recovered an onside kick. Five plays later, Rivers found Vincent Jackson for a 14-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 37-30.
The Chargers got what they wanted on the Saints’ next possession, forcing a punt. Rivers drove his team to the New Orleans 32-yard line but on a 3rd-and-15 play, he was picked off by Jonathan Vilma. That all but sealed it.
The Chargers were able to force a late safety, but the clock ran out on them in a 37-32 loss which dropped them to 3-5 on the season. However, the Chargers closed that season on a 4-game winning streak to win the division with an 8-8 record. They then defeated the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round before eventually being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.