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American Football: Bears help NFL put down roots

Suddenly the NFL at Wembley is beginning to seem less like a novelty and more like the real thing.

The International Series games, of which yesterday's 24-18 victory for the Chicago Bears over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the fifth, are now planned to continue until at least 2016, so we can now put in ink, rather than pencil, an NFL visit every year.

Moreover, there is the intention to increase the number of games in the UK to two next season and eventually have an NFL team based here. Last week San Francisco 49ers co-owner Dr John York, chairman of the NFL owners' international committee, told The Independent that he thinks that a London-based NFL franchise "will happen" eventually.

The early part of the evening did not go much better for the Glazer family, who own both Manchester United and the Buccaneers, than the early afternoon had. The Bears restricted their opponents to a safety and a field goal in the first half while scoring touchdowns with Matt Forte's 32-yard run, Jay Cutler's pass to Roy Williams, and another touchdown run by Marion Barber.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman, rated a star of the future, had had a mixed evening but he threw touchdown passes to Kellen Winslow and Dezmon Briscoe late on. You get the feeling they may get another chance to impress at Wembley.