Rhein Fire loses to Barcelona Dragons in the top game of the ELF

1:17 p.m. in Duisburg
Rhein Fire is defeated by the ELF in the top game

In a gripping duel, the Düsseldorf Rhein Fire football team was narrowly defeated by the Barcelona Dragons. It is the hosts’ first defeat of the season. The approximately 7,600 spectators in the Duisburg Arena see a game that is primarily characterized by two strong defensive lines.

Long-established fans of American football felt transported back to old times on Sunday. For the first time in 19 years, Düsseldorf Rhein Fire met the Barcelona Dragons again. Between 1994 and 2003, both teams regularly faced each other in NFL Europe, the overseas branch of the large US professional league NFL, and delivered gripping duels. In June 1997, the Barcelona Dragons celebrated their only World Bowl title in the final against Rhein Fire. In the European League of Football (ELF) there was a big reunion.

“Since the old NFL Europe teams are now 15 years old, it’s not like familiar faces are seeing each other again, but of course it’s nice to play against such an opponent again and see the old colors again,” said Rhein- Fire CEO Martin Wagner after the game.

As in the past, the two teams fought a close duel with the better end for the team from Barcelona. The “Dragons” won the top game of the previously unbeaten teams with 17:13 and establish themselves at the table of the Southern Division.

The approximately 7,600 spectators in the Duisburg Arena initially saw a game that was primarily characterized by two strong defensive lines. Only 25 seconds before the end of the first quarter did the guests score the first points of the game. Barcelona running back Adrián Jiménez picked up a blocked Rhein Fire punt and ran the football into the end zone. In the second quarter, too, the Düsseldorf team struggled for a long time.

A “big play” on the defensive finally brought coach Jim Tomsula’s team into play. Jannik Seibel intercepted a pass from Barcelona quarterback Zach Edwards in the end zone and prevented another touchdown. Quarterback Matt Adam eventually led his team across the field and eventually made it 7-7 at the break with a 1-yard run into the end zone.

After half-time, Düsseldorf failed to take the lead. Kicker Daniel Schumacher, who had a wasted day, missed the big opportunity and fired a field goal from 19 yards wide to the right. Otherwise, the defensives continued to dominate on both sides and so the third quarter ended without points. There was a moment of shock when Barcelona player Torrededia lay down after a hard hit and had to be treated for several minutes. Finally, the wide receiver was able to leave the field on his own feet to the encouraging applause of the fans.

With the first move of the final quarter, the guests then took the lead again. Jiménez caught an Edwards pass in the end zone and claimed his second touchdown of the day. Five minutes before the end, the “Dragons” added another field goal and extended the lead to ten points. Now Matt Adam was challenged again. He served Nathaniel Robitaille in the end zone and cut in again. Düsseldorf got the ball back again. Adam took a risk, but wide receiver Harlan Kwofie narrowly missed his long pass. Shortly thereafter, another pass from the quarterback was intercepted by a pass defender for the guests. That was the end of the game and the first defeat was finally sealed.

“Our defense played great. She held one of the league’s best offenses at bay for three quarters and has been let down by offense. Our offensive today was a moderate disaster. You can’t sugarcoat that. The choice of move was totally one-sided and boring,” analyzed Wagner.

Due to the defeat, Düsseldorf slipped to second place in the Southern Conference. The fans present still celebrated their team after the end and said goodbye with lots of applause.