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A to Z of International Series

Posted Nov 25, 2015

With 14 International Series games having already been played there have been plenty of memorable moments. Here we take you on a quick A-Z tour of the International Series.

A is for alumni… The International Series games always feature visits from special alumni associated with the competing teams and in previous years some of the very best in NFL history have spent time meeting fans in London, including Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Barry Sanders and Jerry Rice. Who will you get to meet in 2016?

B is for biggest win… The biggest margin of victory for an International Series game in London is 38 points after New England beat St. Louis 45-7 in 2012. The Rams actually scored first in that game but then it was all Patriots. Kansas City matched that series-high 45-point output with their 45-10 thrashing of the Detroit Lions in Week 8 this season.

C is for comeback… The International Series has produced a couple of notable comebacks in the past two seasons. In 2014, the Detroit Lions trailed the Atlanta Falcons 21-0 at the half before storming back to record a 22-21 victory. And earlier this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars opened up a 27-3 first half lead only to end up trailing the Buffalo Bills 31-27 with just over five minutes remaining. But the Jags produced one final and thrilling comeback as Blake Bortles fired a game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass to Allen Hurns. Will there be more thrilling comebacks in 2016? Probably!

D is for Dunlap… When the Cincinnati Bengals play the Washington Redskins in London in 2016, one of the true secret superstars of the NFL will be on display. He may not garner too many headlines around the league but Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap is one of the best in the business and is a constant menace to opposing quarterbacks.

E is for events… The NFL certainly knows how to put on a show in London as American football fans are encouraged to “make a weekend of it.” Whether it be the Fan Rally in Trafalgar Square, the NFL on Regent Street or the Gameday Fan Plazas, there is plenty to keep British fans entertained ahead of the opening kick-off.

F is for future Hall of Famers… British fans have seen several players with a shot at the Hall of Fame in action in London, including Drew Brees (2008), Tom Brady (2009 and 2012), Adrian Peterson (2013), Ben Roethlisberger (2013) and Calvin Johnson (2015). Will some of the key performers in 2016 one day find themselves heading for Canton, Ohio?

G is for Gurley… When the St. Louis Rams play in London in 2016, British NFL fans will get to witness the special skills of running back Todd Gurley, who is lighting up the league in his rookie campaign. In his first four starts for the Rams, Gurley rushed for an NFL record 566 yards and has already been compared to Adrian Peterson. Not a bad start then!

H is for history-making touchdown… New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning scored the first regular season touchdown at Wembley Stadium, running in a 10-yarder against Miami in 2007. That score is one of just five rushing touchdowns in Eli’s 12-year career.

I is for interceptions… Quarterbacks who play in London should beware – two of the league’s biggest ball-hawks and masters of the interception are heading to the UK. Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams currently leads the NFL with five interceptions and Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson is just one spot back with four picks on the year.

J is for Jordan… One of the NFL’s more productive tight ends is heading to London in 2016 in the form of Jordan Reed, of the Washington Redskins. Reed has blossomed in his third NFL season and has caught 47 passes for 443 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. Next stop the Pro Bowl?

K is for kick returns… There has never been a kick-off or punt return touchdown in the previous 14 International Series games.

L is for Luck… One of the most exciting and talented quarterbacks in the NFL will be returning ‘home’ to London as his Indianapolis Colts take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. Luck spent part of his childhood growing up in London while his father, Oliver, served as president of NFL Europe.

M is for Miami… The Dolphins have played the join most International Series games in London along with the Jacksonville Jaguars with three appearances in the UK. Miami lost to the New York Giants in 2007, beat the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and were defeated by the New York Jets in 2015.

N is for nutcracker dude… One of the more unique touchdown celebrations came in 2012 when New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attempted to imitate the Queen’s guards who stand outside Buckingham Palace. In a style only he can pull off, The Gronk said he was paying tribute to “that little nutcracker dude that’s guarding the house. I like how he just sits there and stays still.”

O is for Ohio State Marching Band… Who can forget the spectacular pre-game performance from the Ohio State Marching Band ahead of this year’s Jaguars-Bills match-up? Or their takeover of Regent Street the day before? The NFL International Series is much more than just a game and there will be more top-notch pre-game entertainment coming your way in 2016.

P is for prolific pairing… The NFL’s most prolific wide receiver duo will return to Wembley Stadium in 2016 as Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns lead the Jacksonville Jaguars into battle against the Indianapolis Colts. There has not been a more productive wide receiver pairing in the league this year as The Allen Brothers have combined for 94 catches for 1,587 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Q is for quarterbacks… Some of the NFL’s very best have played in London – Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger – 2016 will offer up some more upper-echelon passers in Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton.

R is for Red Rifle… Cincinnati’s flame-haired quarterback Andy Dalton has rightfully earned his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the league as he has guided the Bengals into the thick of the race to the Super Bowl. The Red Rifle is also one of the few passers in the NFL with a nickname. That has to count for something, right?

S is for season tickets… More than half of all fans who attended the three International Series games at Wembley Stadium this year were season ticket holders. And you will have the chance to become a season ticket holder for the 2016 games by clicking here. Don’t miss your opportunity to secure the best seats in the house!

T is for total number of teams… Three NFL teams – Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Washington - will play an International Series game in London for the first time in 2016, taking the total number of teams to have played a regular season contest in the UK to 23. If the Philadelphia Eagles end up being the opponent for the St. Louis Rams, that total will rise to 24.

U is for undetermined… The St. Louis Rams will play in London in 2016 but their opponent will not be known until we get towards the end of the 2015 regular season. Each year, teams play an opponent from another division who finish in the same slot as them. So if the Rams finish second in the NFC West this year, they will play the second-placed team in the NFC East in London in 2016. For now, we know the Rams will play either the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins or Philadelphia Eagles.

V is for versatile… When the St. Louis Rams play in London in 2016 keep an eye out for one of the most versatile and explosive players in the game today in Tavon Austin. The 2013 first round draft choice is officially listed as a wide receiver but he is much more than that for the Rams. Austin has racked up 551 all-purpose yards this season, scoring 6 touchdowns on runs, catches and returns.

W is for weather… The weather certainly played a part in the very first International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. Torrential rain failed to dampen the spirits of the sell-out crowd, but it did factor into what remains the lowest-scoring game in International Series history. The Giants (13) and Dolphins (10) combined for just 23 points.

X is for return of the X-Man… Not great, right? Well, you try to come up with one for the letter X. The best we can come up with is that Dez Bryant and his X-man touchdown celebration could return in 2016 if the Cowboys are the Rams’ NFC East opponent. Bryant went off at Wembley in 2014, catching 6 passes for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns – all in the second quarter!

Y is for young Randy Moss… That is the description that has been applied to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green for a few years now. The ever-productive receiver is now in his fifth season and is one of the best in the game. The long-striding Green is a threat to score from anywhere on the field and will present quite the challenge to the Washington secondary.

Z is for zebras… Okay, so this is even worse than the letter X. We could have gone with Z-list celebrity NFL fans who come out of the woodwork for the London games but that would just be too cruel. So let’s hear it for the officials who will take charge of the three games in London in 2016, who are collectively known as zebras! I know… totally lame effort!

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