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American professional football returned to the heartland of soccer Sunday as the New England Patriots faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the hallowed turf of London's Wembley stadium and for the third year in a row, a sell-out crowd screamed and enjoyed a piece of true Americana in a regular season contest. For both teams, playing in London was a unique part of their season and both squads were well supported in Britain, where television coverage over the years has boosted interest levels.
Another year, another success in Britain for the National Football League.
The sellout crowd of just over 84,000 cheered and yelled as Wembley again hosted what is becoming a regular event on the British sporting calendar.
This year, the New England Patriots overpowered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7.
The sport has been seen on British television since the 1980s and over that time, the knowledge base among fans has grown substantially.
"I started watching it on TV quite a long time ago when Pittsburgh were in the Super Bowl and ever since then I have loved it," one fan said. "I played for my university and it is a fantastic sport and I think, yeah, it I great you are bringing it over here and more people need to get behind it and get involved because they are missing out."
American football could never replace soccer as the top sporting draw here. The National Football League knows that. But there are enough followers of the game for the NFL to make an impact and generate income.
NFL International spokesman Neil Reynolds says far from leveling out, interest in the game continues to grow.
"I think the hunger is still there, in fact it has got even bigger, that hunger is for even more for more games in the future and I think that is not going to drop off," Reynolds said. "These fans really want more NFL football and we are giving them the real deal so it is great. "
And because of this, Reynolds says slowly, the NFL wants to increase its presence in Britain.
"It is no secret that the commissioner, this commissioner Roger Goodell is very excited and keen to push that through," Reynolds said. "He has spoken at the owners' meetings recently about how they want to explore expanding this market. He wants to look at two games. That is a natural step. We have had one that is successful, can you host two? Can you host four? If you do that maybe then after that, what we are looking at? Maybe a franchise. So I mean, it is baby steps. We are trying to move it forward."
For now, it looks like two games a year in Britain may soon become a reality and that is something most of the fans would like to see.
"We traveled all the way down from Scotland down to the game so it would be an expense two years but I would like to see but I would like to come both years but I do not know how often everybody would come if we had it too much," one fan said.
"I would go to both games. Yeah, I think it would be a good idea for two games," said another.
"It would be good if they could move it to various places, as well," a third fan noted. "We could have it at Wembley, bring it up to Hampden Park in Scotland. Yeah. "
For the fans, the noisy, festive memories will last for the rest of the season. And they will be back again next year for another regular season game, or maybe two, and for them, that is something to cheer about.