CINCINNATI — The tiger-striped helmets are headed to London for the first time.
The Bengals will host a game against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 30 at Wembley Stadium next season, the first time Cincinnati has been part of the NFL’s annual international games.
Twenty-one other teams have already played in London as part of a series that started in 2007. Cincinnati will be involved in one of the three London games next season. Jacksonville will host Indianapolis, and St. Louis will host a yet-to-be-determined team from the NFC in the other games.
Since the game is a year away, the reaction was muted. Roughly half of the Bengals’ starting lineup is in the final year of contracts, so there’s no telling how many of them will be around for it. But some were excited about the possibility of finally making the trip.
“I’m a big soccer fan and I love Europe and I love England,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “Whenever I’d see other teams going to England, I wished we were one of those teams.
“I’m really excited for that trip. Hopefully I’ll meet some of my favorite soccer stars. This will be a bucket list for me.”
Since the Bengals will be the home team, they’ll lose a game at Paul Brown Stadium. Coach Marvin Lewis played down the franchise’s first trip abroad.
“The NFL had to do what they do,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “It’s a great opportunity. Nobody is promised next year around here — that’s the first part of it.
“A lot of the teams, almost two-thirds of the teams around the league, have already done this. We are taking our turn and our hand in it.”
Lewis traveled to London for a preseason game with the Dolphins at Wembley when he was a coaching intern in 1988.
“I’ve always taken away from London that it was neat to travel outside the country and yet be somewhere that everyone spoke the same language,” Lewis said. “While we were there, a lot of the time the weather in fall was damp and cool.”
Civic leaders welcomed the news on Wednesday as another step in the Bengals (8-2) bringing attention to the city. Cincinnati has a club-record five prime time games this season, in part because of its strong showing on the field. The Bengals lead the AFC North by two games over Pittsburgh.
By contrast, when the NFL made its announcement of the London games on Wednesday, the operator of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis responded by saying it would violate the Rams’ lease agreement to host the game abroad.
Notes: CB Adam “Pacman” Jones didn’t practice on Wednesday because of a foot injury that kept him out of the Bengals’ 34-31 loss at Arizona on Sunday night. Backup CB Darqueze Dennard suffered a significant shoulder injury during the game and has been ruled out for Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. … QB Andy Dalton was limited in practice by a sore groin. He finished the game on Sunday without a problem. … LB Vontaze Burfict (knee), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), S Shawn Williams (ankle), WR Marvin Jones (hamstring), RT Andre Smith (thigh) and DT Pat Sims (knee) were limited.
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