x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Troy Smith leads 49ers to Wembley win

In his first start as a 49er, Smith completes a 28-yard touchdown pass to help San Francisco rally and beat Broncos 24-16.

WEMBLEY // The quarterback Troy Smith found his range in the fourth quarter, leading the San Francisco 49ers to a 24-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday in the NFL's fourth regular-season game at Wembley Stadium.

In his first start as a 49er, Smith completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with 7:23 to go to help San Francisco take a 17-10 lead. Frank Gore scored another with 3:47 to go, running in from the 3.

A few minutes earlier, Smith made it 10-10 by rushing for a 1-yard touchdown after completing back-to-back passes to Delanie Walker, the first for 27 yards and the second for 38. Both teams have now won two games and lost six. 

Although it rained in London for much of the day, it was dry during the game and the conditions on the Wembley pitch held up. As the home team, the 49ers were able to distribute team flags to the fans. 

Although spectators were dressed in a myriad of NFL colors, the majority were cheering for San Francisco. This is the fourth straight year that the NFL has played a regular-season game in London. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been talking about playing more games in Britain and possibly establishing a team in London in the future. 

Smith only found out a few days ago that he was going to start because usual starter Alex Smith was diagnosed with a separated shoulder. And Smith struggled in the first half, completing only 4 of 9 passes for 37 yards. At the end, though, he finished with 196 yards while completing 12 of 19 passes. Gore had the most productive day on the ground, rushing for 118 yards on 29 carries for the Niners. 

The Broncos got their first touchdown in the third quarter when Tim Tebow ran in from 1 yard after Kyle Orton connected with Brandon Lloyd for 71 yards. Orton then helped the Broncos close the gap with 2:19 to go, passing to Lloyd for 1 yard. But Matt Prater missed the extra point. Orton completed 28 of 40 passes for 369 yards. 

But he also made the only two turnovers of the game, first when Manny Lawson swatted the ball out of his hand in the fourth, setting up Gore's TD run, and then when he threw an interception to Shawntae Spencer in the final minute.