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Buccaneers, Patriots picked by NFL to face off in London next year

The NFL's International Series of regular-season games will return to the United Kingdom in 2009 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the New England Patriots, the NFL announced Monday.

The game will be played on Sunday, Oct. 25, at Wembley Stadium in London with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET on CBS.

The Buccaneers and Patriots have combined to play in five of the past seven Super Bowls. Both clubs are strong contenders for a return trip to the playoffs this season.

"Over the past two years, we have seen first-hand the excitement that exists for our sport in the UK," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. "The games have helped us to deepen our connection with our UK fans as well as create new ones. We are looking forward to another outstanding game in 2009."

The contest will mark the third consecutive year of an NFL regular-season game at London's Wembley Stadium. On Oct. 26, the New Orleans Saints defeated the San Diego Chargers 37-32 before a crowd of 83,226. The International Series began on Oct. 28, 2007, when the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins 13-10.

"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization is extremely excited and honored to be chosen to participate in the NFL International Series," said Buccaneers executive vice president Joel Glazer. "We look forward to being part of the NFL's global outreach and playing our great game in front of Buccaneers fans overseas."

The Buccaneers captured Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season and are challenging for their third NFC South Division title in the past four years. The Tampa Bay community will be in the global spotlight at the culmination of this season when Super Bowl XLIII is played at Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 1.

"We are proud to be selected by the NFL to be featured in next year's international game," said New England Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "We have had a lot of memorable moments in recent years. I am sure our trip to the United Kingdom next year will prove to be an unforgettable experience for our players and coaches, as well as the many fans that will travel to the game. I think it is fitting that New England's first game to be played outside of North America will be in England. I know that the UK is home to some of our most passionate Patriots fans and we look forward to the experience."

The Patriots are three-time Super Bowl champions (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) and won their first 18 games last season in advancing to Super Bowl XLII. The team is bidding for its sixth consecutive AFC East Division championship.

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