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Minnesota Vikings' Adam Thielen marvels at UK fans' love for the NFL

Minnesota Vikings’ Adam Thielen marvels at UK fans’ love for the NFL

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is still amazed at how much English people have become football fans.

The 32-year-old has been on three NFL tours of London, concluding his latest visit with a 28-25 win over the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

That makes him one of the few players in the league’s 15-year history in the capital to travel to all three spots used, all of Minnesota’s wins. He didn’t take it for granted.

“Yeah, that means a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve seen all three stadiums, my first year I was in the training squad so I didn’t play, but it’s always good to come here and win, what a great fan base, what a great venue.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to expand this sport. Honestly, I believe it’s the best sport. I like football-slash-soccer, but I feel like there’s something about American football. You saw it here today.

“It’s physical, it’s fun, it’s exciting, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of excitement, it keeps you on your toes, so I hope we can continue to bring it to other countries and bring it to this country, because every time I come here, it’s usually four Or it feels like five years apart and I think the game has grown a lot.

“People really understand. ‘Do you know anything about football?’ They’ll say, ‘Yeah, I grew up watching football, I played football, it’s really cool.'”

Thielen, who had eight catches on nine targets for 72 yards on Sunday, made his first trip to London with the Vikings in a 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley in 2013 and followed that trip up in 2017 with a 33-16 victory. Cleveland Browns at Twickenham.

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Sunday’s game, the 100th international game in NFL history, was played in front of 60,639 and was the most exciting of Thielen’s trips across the ocean.

Minnesota scored a touchdown early in the first quarter and led 13-7 at halftime.

But the Saints rallied with a touchdown and conversion in the third, taking the lead for the first time on Taysom Hill’s touchdown and a two-point conversion to make it 22-19 with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings got six more points from running back Justin Jefferson (10 receptions on 13 targets for 147 yards), but Greg Joseph, who was 5-for-5 on field goals on the afternoon, missed the one-point conversion.

A miscalculation soon followed, as Will Lutz kicked a 60-yard field goal through the posts — the second-longest in Saints history — to tie the proceedings at 25 points with less than two minutes left.

Minnesota answered with a field goal of its own, and Lutz’s last-gasp field goal attempt, this time from 61 yards, agonizingly hit the post and then the crossbar to give the Vikings the win.

“I thought they were both in,” Lutz said. “I hit them both on the bolts. I threw them there. The ball moved a little to the left. The second one moved a little more to the left. So shocked he didn’t jump.

“Not every game is going to go your way, obviously. It’s not the start of the season, and I want it to be. I’m taking it one week at a time, and I don’t have any thoughts like ‘this week.’ Today I thought I kicked the ball well. But yes, I wanted to land that kick for the team. We needed a win today and it’s very frustrating.

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