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New England Patriots Victory a Win for NFL in Mexico

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November 21, 2017

Fans wearing Patriots jerseys file into Estadio Azteca on November 19, 2017. (Instagram @NathanielParish)

Mexico City - On Sunday, November 19 the New England Patriots defeated the Oakland Raiders 33-8 in a game played in front of 76,000 fans at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium.

The Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady played an impeccable game, completing 30 passes for 339 yards and scoring three touchdowns. He also set up his teammate Stephen Gostkowski for a Patriots' record 62-yard field goal, the longest kick ever recorded by a New England player. (The thin air at the high altitude stadium probably helped.)

With the win Brady became the first NFL quarterback ever to win games in the U.S., England, and Mexico. The game was a success not just for Brady, but also for the NFL, a league that is trying to grow its presence across the world.

The NFL, like the NBA, the MLB and Formula One, is placing a special emphasis on Mexico, the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. The Mexico City metro area, which is home to more than twenty million people, is believed to host the NFL's seventh largest fan base in North America.

Right now Mexico is the number one market for the NFL outside of the U.S. Mexican television broadcasts five games per week in Mexico, two on Televisa, five on Fox, and two on ESPN, a broadcaster owned by Disney. Total, 7 million people in Mexico tuned in to watch the Super Bowl in 2017.

Before Sunday's game thousands of fans poured into the stadium, many dressed in Patriots or Raiders gear, but others showing jerseys for their favorite teams, such as the Steelers or the Cowboys. It was a chance for NFL fans in Mexico to see the game up close in their own country. I heard one fan turn to his friend and double check on U.S. geography before the game. "¿Donde esta New England?" he asked. (Where is New England?)

For the players and for some fans from the U.S. the game was a chance to come and check out Mexico City. Before the game, Anthony, a 39-year-old from San Jose, California told me that "I had never been to Mexico City. I wanted to see [it]. The game was just an excuse" for making the trip.

An international trip for a regular season game is a challenge for players but the Patriots appear to have adapted well to playing at altitude.

After the game Tom Brady told reporters, "to be here... and to play in a different country and to have everyone cheer for our team, cheer for me and cheer for my teammates is incredible. Hopefully, there's many more games here."

Brady's teammate Rob Gronkowski added "Mexican fans? They were awesome. They were loud. They were into the game. They made it a pleasure coming down here."

Paulina Guiterrez, a Patriots fan who traveled to Mexico City from the coast in Tabasco, Mexico said her family has always been Patriots fans. She watches games on TV but she told me, "to see it live, to be able to shout and cheer, there's nothing like it."

Original article