Remembering the Three Games the Packers Have Played Outside the USA

The NFL announced this week that the Packers would be “hosting” a regular-season game in 2022 in London, playing at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at a date still to be determined. That will make the Pack the last NFL team to play a game overseas during the regular season.

But this will not be the first time the Packers have played a game outside the United States. Green Bay has traveled out of the country three times to play preseason games.

Here is a look back at the Packers three preseason games that they played overseas:

1. August 16, 1997, at SkyDome, Toronto, Canada

The Packers were the defending Super Bowl champions when they headed north to Canada to face the Buffalo Bills in what was part of the American Bowl series of preseason games in front of 53,896 fans.

Brett Favre played a little more than a quarter of the game but left his mark, throwing two touchdown passes to Antonio Freeman from 18 and three yards out. Dorsey Levens scored on a 25-yard touchdown run as the Packers first string offense moved the ball easily on the Bills starting defense.

The Packers were confident and improved to 4-0 on the preseason with the commanding 35-3 win.

“In practice, we play against the best defense in the NFL every day, so we feel anything is possible,” Freeman told reporters after the game. “Anything can happen with this offense.”

After Favre left, Doug Pederson threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mayes and Aaron Hayden ran 15 yards for another score. Reggie White also had two sacks for the Packers in limited action.

Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur was pleased with his unit’s play. “We played fast and we played well,” he said. “Our guys came out ready to play. They didn’t care, preseason, Canada, what the [heck] else. They came out ready, that’s the big thing.”

2. August 2, 1998, Tokyo, Japan

One year later, the defending NFC champion Packers traveled to Tokyo to face the Kansas City Chiefs. While the team wasn’t happy with the way they played, Green Bay came away with a 27-24 overtime win on Ryan Longwell’s 27-yard field goal. The game was a sellout with 42,018 fans in attendance.

The game was played at 11:15 AM local time which meant it started at 9:15 PM CT.

The Packers played four quarterbacks in this game. Brett Favre got the start followed by Doug Pederson, Matt Hasselbeck and David Klingler. Only Favre failed to lead them on a scoring drive.

Glyn Milburn had a big day as a kick returner, breaking off a 76-yard runback while wide receiver Bill Schroeder caught seven passes for 155 yards in a breakout performance by a player who was fighting for a job.

Travis Jervey led all Packers runners with 72 yards on just five carries while playing with the starters in the absence of Dorsey Levens.

The Packers overcame an early 14-0 deficit to win their preseason opener in what would be their final season under Mike Holmgren.

The Packers missed three field goals and played a sloppy game overall. “Boy, we made a lot of mistakes, which in the long run probably will help us because it will allow us to teach off this game,” head coach Holmgren said.

3. August 23, 2019, Winnipeg, Canada

Of all the three games the Packers played outside the United States this was the strangest. The game was played on a modified, 80-yard field because of concerns about the turf where the goal posts had been moved from the CFL-sized field to the NFL one.

Only 21,992 fans showed up for the game, about two-thirds of capacity to see the Packers face the Raiders.

Rookie head coach Matt LaFleur held Aaron Rodgers out of the game and rested 33 players altogether in what would eventually become a trend for his teams.

“We were going to have all our starters play, and it was just one of those deals,” LaFleur said. “We certainly have all played on much worse surfaces in our life, but it was just one of those deals where they weren't playing their starters and so we just decided to sit them.”

The Packers lost this game 22-21 on a 33-yard field goal by Daniel Carson with eight seconds left in the game. All the Packers points came in the second quarter.

Tim Boyle had a big day for the Packers, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns while finishing with a quarterback rating of 113.9.

Trevor Davis led all Packers receivers with five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Jake Kumerow caught the other scoring pass. Running back Tra Carson ran for the third Green Bay touchdown.

Despite the strange conditions, LaFleur tried to remain positive. “I thought there was a lot of good quality football out there. The beauty of hits is we got a chance to really evaluate some of the guys that may not have gotten the amount of time that we needed to get evaluations on.”

The Packers finished the season 13-3 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

Of course, the big difference this year in London is that for the first time, the game will count in the standings. It will be a new chapter for the Packers organization and a great opportunity for their European fans.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (4)

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Zapato's picture

March 05, 2022 at 02:50 pm

I was lucky enough to be at the Tokyo game in 1998. Mike Holmgren gave a short speech before the game which was overwhelmingly attended by Packers fans from both the US and Japan. I bought a program for my son and it luckily contained a winning number that got us onto the field in the fourth quarter. I'll never forget standing within twenty feet of Brett Favre and Reggie White. But the big bonus was being able to get our picture taken with Leroy Butler and two other DBs (whose names I can't remember). The other thing that stuck in my memory was just how incredibly ripped every one of the players were. It just speaks to the time and dedication these athletes put in to become elite professionals. What an experience!!!

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GilMartin's picture

March 07, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Wow, Zapato, that must have been awesome. What was it like seeing an NFL preseason game in Japan? Thanks for sharing the story and for the comment.

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NickPerry's picture

March 06, 2022 at 10:11 am

I'll apologize to all the Packers fans in London right now for what I'm about to say...

Call me a dud but I just don't like this at all. This was the year the Packers would have 9 games at Lambeau and now they'll have to wait until 2024 to have that advantage. Teams who play over there also tend to get stuck with an early bye week.

Hopefully after this year it takes a long, long, LONG, time before the Packers play overseas again.

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GilMartin's picture

March 07, 2022 at 12:34 pm

When you consider the Packers are the last team to play in London, it will be OK. Next time, hopefully it will be a "road" game and not cost the Pack a home date at Lambeau. It will be a once every decade type thing so let's get it over with and enjoy the ride. Thanks for the comment, NickPerry. Always good to hear from you.

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