The NFL's London Games 2017 came to an end on Sunday (October 29th) at Twickenham Stadium in London, where the Minnesota Vikings ran out convincing 33-16 victors over the still winless Cleveland Browns.
The game took place almost ten years to the day since the NFL's first regular season game was played at Wembley between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins, and it capped off another successful year for the league in the British capital, with more than 316,000 people attending the four games in 2017.
For the first time ever, London played host to four games this season, with the NFL adding one more to the regular schedule, and the Vikings' win, which extends their record to 6-2 for the season, followed the Jacksonville Jaguars' 44-7 win over Baltimore Ravens, the New Orleans Saints' 20-0 victory against the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams' 33-0 win against the Arizona Cardinals.
What were the stories of the series?
Once again, the London Games provided for the fans, with some of the sport's biggest stars making the trips to Wembley and Twickenham. Among them were Rams running back Todd Gurley, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Cardinals veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald and Miami running back, London-born Jay Ajayi.
As in previous years, we saw the Jaguars perform well on British soil once again. The team has had something of an up and down season so far, but a thumping 44-7 win over the Ravens showed that year after year, the Jags love playing at Wembley.
Before the series, few would have predicted that the final game between Cleveland and Minnesota would be the most exciting, but that was the way it turned out. Isaiah Crowell's lung-busting run and touchdown in the first quarter blew the game wide open, only for the Browns to be slowly picked off by the Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen combination, leaving rookie QB Deshone Kizer still seeking his first win as a pro.
This season also saw the home of rugby, Twickenham, double its allocation of games after impressing with its debut in the series last year. With almost 150,000 packing into the stadium across the two games, it seems Twickenham might be here to stay as an NFL venue.
Tight games were not exactly commonplace in the London Games this year, with two teams failing to get on the scoresheet at all, and three running away with their respective ties, but there were still some stand out performances to be admired across the four games.
In the opener, Jacksonville blew the Baltimore Ravens away, but it was tight end Marcedes Lewis who stole the show, proving himself a favourable target for QB Blake Bortles as he scored a hat-trick of touchdowns at Wembley. But it was the Jags continued good form in England that will please the team most, especially given the persistent rumours of them making the move permanently.
Week two's star performer was a more difficult choice, as a game that saw two teams largely cancel each other out was eventually won by the Saints, who saw two second half touchdowns from Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara seal a 20-0 win that was far less convincing than it sounded against a Dolphins team that just didn't show up.
The Los Angeles Rams also gave a good account of themselves on their return to Twickenham. After Case Keenum's four-interception nightmare last year, Jared Goff took the reigns this time around, and he marshalled a strong offensive performance that saw Todd Gurley star as the Rams shut down the Cardinals.
In the series' final game for this year, Keenum returned to the scene of last season's disaster show, this time emerging victorious. The Vikings quarterback was helped by offensive targets that included Thielen, Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, while running back Jerick McKinnon caused the Browns difficulties all afternoon.
Overall, the 2017 London Games has been another resounding success for the NFL, with well in excess of 300,000 people coming out to watch the games, further expanding the reach of the game in Europe. Fans will now be eagerly awaiting news of what 2018 holds for them in London!