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Old 12-01-2008, 10:28 AM   #220
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Posted by Mike Florio on December 1, 2008, 1:01 p.m. EST

The New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play a regular-season game at London’s Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2009, the NFL announced on Monday.

The Bucs will be the home team, which means that the cannons at Raymond James Stadium will be firing for only seven regular-season games in 2009.

(The fact that Tampa is hosting the Super Bowl this year might make the pill go down a bit more easily.)

It will mark the second straight sacrifice of a home game by an NFC South team. Earlier this year, the Saints gave up a home game to host the Chargers in London. The move was questioned in some circles (as in, right here) because of the fact that the citizens of New Orleans had lost all eight home games only three years ago.

“Over the past two years, we have seen first-hand the excitement that exists for our sport in the UK,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said of next year’s game. “The games have helped us to deepen our connection with our UK fans as well as create new ones. We are looking forward to another outstanding game in 2009.”

Said Patriots owner Robert Kraft: “We are proud to be selected by the NFL to be featured in next year’s international game. We have had a lot of memorable moments in recent years. I am sure our trip to the United Kingdom next year will prove to be an unforgettable experience for our players and coaches, as well as the many fans that will travel to the game. I think it is fitting that New England’s first game to be played outside of North America will be in England. I know that the UK is home to some of our most passionate Patriots fans and we look forward to the experience.”

There ultimately could be a significant layer of intrigue when these two teams square off; Tampa quarterback Jeff Garcia is in the final year of his contract with the team, and the cap-rich Bucs might enter the offseason bidding for current Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.
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