The Vikings enjoyed a winning return to London last week with a solid 33-16 victory over a Cleveland Browns side, who remain without a win this season. Surrey’s Twickenham Stadium played host to the Vikings and the Browns for the first time, as London’s NFL fixtures moved from the Wembley Stadium to freshen things up for the U.K.-based NFL fans. And it was a good one.
The Vikings are now 6-2 for the season and still sit atop of the NFC North Conference after comfortably winning against the Cleveland side, who now rank as the outsiders to make and win the next Super Bowl with BetStars placing them at 750/1, which may even be quite generous odds! As for the Vikings, they are now considered by the same bookmaker to be joint-sixth favorites to lift the coveted trophy and end a four-game losing streak in the Super Bowl finals.
Disappointingly for fans of the NFL International Series, this was arguably the lowest-key fixture of Week 8, with the relatively tame atmosphere at Twickenham summing up the lack of big-game action that the British NFL fans have come to expect in recent years.
It proved to be an equally frustrating Sunday afternoon for Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who was a member of staff for the London Monarchs when they played the first-ever World Bowl some 26 years ago. The Browns actually looked competitive in the opening exchanges, with their defense intercepting the Vikings’ ace Joe Schobert before Isaiah Crowell stormed through the middle of the Vikings defense to score the first touchdown of the match.
Nevertheless, the Browns have been without a win for a reason, and it didn’t take long for the Vikings to wake up and respond. A field goal got the Vikings on the board after an initial 15-yard penalty following unnecessary physicality from the Browns’ ace Eric Wilson. It took the Vikings almost until the end of the first half before they could actually take the lead, with Thielen bagging his first touchdown of the season following Keenum’s 18-yard pass.
Such was the lack of conviction from both sides that the Vikings then handed the lead back to the Browns almost immediately. Within two slick plays, the Browns had moved 76 yards and DeShone Kizer eventually made the moves pay with the young quarterback scoring from just a yard.
It was a slender 13-12 lead for the Browns at halftime, but their advantage lasted less than two minutes of the third quarter thanks to Forbath’s accurate field goal. It really took the Vikings until the final quarter to really turn up the style and heat on the Browns who visibly lacked confidence and assuredness with their play. Sloppy penalties gifted the Vikings easy points to pave the way before Kyle Rudolph expertly finished a four-yard touchdown.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, the Vikings — with a 14-point advantage — duly closed the game out professionally. In the end, it sealed a comfortable win for Minnesota. This contest was also the final game of the series of NFL games to be held in London this season. The English capital has now played host to NFL games for ten successive seasons.