Time Machine: International History

This week's game in London isn't the first time the Falcons have played abroad. In 2000 and 2005 the Falcons traveled to Tokyo, Japan for the American Bowl, a preseason game played internationally.

The Falcons are in London preparing to face the Lions in their first NFL international regular season game.

But this is not the first time that the Birds have flown out of the country for an overseas contest.

Atlanta has traveled to Tokyo, Japan for a pair of preseason games in 2000 and 2005.

It was early August in 2005 when the Falcons made the 14 hour flight to Tokyo from Atlanta, arriving at 3:30 a.m. local time, for their second game abroad. Much like this trip to the UK, your body clock initially didn't have a clue what time zone you were in, so coming off the plane it might as have well have been 3:30 p.m.

A lengthy two-hour bus ride to the hotel ensued and to keep the players active and to start to acclimate them to the time change, Coach Jim Mora scheduled an early morning practice session.

Players, coaches and staff made their way on foot from the Tokyo Dome Hotel directly to the Tokyo Dome through a tunnel system because of the close proximity from the hotel to the stadium. They were basically connected to one another.  Our hotel was also where all the visiting baseball teams stayed when they were

in town to play the hometown Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants of the Japanese pro baseball league.  

Once you stepped foot outside Japan's capital city for the first time you knew why there had to be a Dome built for sports. It felt like 150 degrees with the oppressive heat and humidity in downtown Tokyo that week.

The Indianapolis Colts of QB Peyton Manning and Head Coach Tony Dungy were the Falcons opponent in this first preseason game abroad, branded by the league as the "American Bowl."

After a slow start yielded no points in the first quarter, Atlanta started the second stanza out strong, dialing up a 14-play, 81-yard drive that took 6:59 off the clock. But the Birds' long drive stalled, as they had to settle for a short 28-yard Todd Peterson field goal.

But Peterson was at it again and knocked through a 36-yarder to close the gap to 7-6 Colts.

After Falcons back-up QB Matt Schaub fumbled a snap at his own five-yard line that resulted in a short return touchdown for the Colts, the Birds went to work.

Schaub was determined to make up for his miscue by directing a scoring march on his very next drive.

WR Brian Finneran was on the receiving end of Schaub's scoring strike from six-yards out which culminated a 7-play, 61-yard march to pull the Birds close at 14-13.

The wild second quarter scoring binge continued as Falcons FB Fred McCrary hauled in a three-yard touchdown pass from Schaub. When it was all tallied up, Atlanta scored 20 points in the second quarter to take the lead at 20-14 going into intermission.

Both teams could not muster up any scoring in the third quarter and the Falcons added on a one-yard touchdown plunge early in the fourth for a solid 27-14 advantage. A late touchdown by the Colts made the score look respectable but it was quite apparent that Atlanta was the dominating team.

Schaub completed 11 of 13 passes for 117 yards with two touchdowns and a 143.8 passer rating. The Birds as a team were a crisp 8-15 on third down attempts, posted 137 yards rushing, and led in time of possession advantage by a wide margin 37:49 to just 22:11 in their first preseason action in 2005. 

 

The other international experience for the Falcons was also another victory by a 20-9 margin over the Cowboys on August 5, 2000 to bring Atlanta's record to 2-0 in Japan.

If you count the Falcons' 34-31 win in Toronto, Canada against the Bills last year, Atlanta is carrying a 3-0 record in games played outside the U.S. into Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium. Plus, the Birds have captured three in-a-row and five of their last seven games against the Lions in this series.

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