The league completed its regular-season schedule on Sunday in Berlin, where the Cologne Centurions earned a 17-13 come-from-behind victory over the Thunder before a franchise-record crowd of 20,927 at Olympic Stadium.
It was a record year for NFL Europe attendance-wise, as the average crowd of 18,965 was the highest since the league re-launched as an all-European competition in 1995, topping the previous best of 18,573 in 2001. The 18,965 figure marked a 19 percent increase from 2004, when the league averaged 15,932.
Cologne overcame a 10-point, third-quarter deficit en route to the win. Buffalo Bills quarterback KEVIN THOMPSON connected with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver ROMBY BRYANT on a 33-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 remaining, lifting the Centurions.
The defensive effort was led by Chicago Bears defensive end GREG WHITE, who finished with eight tackles and 3.0 sacks. White led NFL Europe with 7.0 sacks in 2005.
Houston Texans quarterback DAVE RAGONE saw limited action for Berlin, completing five of seven attempts for 54 yards. Ragone finished the year as the league's top passer, posting a 97.5 passer rating. His 13 touchdown passes tied for most in NFL Europe while his two interceptions were a league low. His active streak of 174 consecutive passes without an interception is the longest such streak in Europe League history.
On Saturday in Düsseldorf, the Rhein Fire ended its season with a second consecutive victory, earning a 27-14 triumph over the World Bowl-bound Amsterdam Admirals.
Tennessee Titans running back JOE SMITH finished the season in record-breaking fashion, rushing for 134 yards on 33 carries, including a five-yard touchdown run. The 100-yard game was his NFL Europe League- record sixth of the season. He concluded the campaign with 1,026 yards, the second highest total in NFL Europe history.
"It's a great feeling to get in the record books," Smith said. "We came in knowing they would stack the box and try to stop us from breaking any rushing records. It was tough, but the guys on the offensive line came up big and we got it done."
Meanwhile in Hamburg on Saturday, the Sea Devils improved to 5-5 on the season with a 17-15 win over the visiting Frankfurt Galaxy before a record crowd of 21,204.
The Sea Devils used a pair of long touchdowns to earn the victory. Denver Broncos defensive tackle AARON HUNT blocked a field goal and then returned it 85 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. Less than five minutes later, Indianapolis Colts quarterback TOM ARTH connected with Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver TERRANCE METCALF on a 95-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead Hamburg would not surrender.
"The team really gave us everything they had all season," said Hamburg head coach JACK BICKNELL. "I'm proud of the way the team responded today and it's great that these guys can head back home and back to their NFL teams with a win."
NFL EUROPE LEAGUE FINAL 2005 STANDINGS
|Berlin Thunder *||7||3||0||.700||
|Amsterdam Admirals *||6||4||0||.600||
|Hamburg Sea Devils||5||5||0||.500||
* Clinched World Bowl Berth
Week 10 Results
Cologne 17, Berlin 13
Hamburg 17, Frankfurt 15
Rhein 27, Amsterdam 14
World Bowl XIII - Saturday, June 11
Amsterdam Admirals at Berlin Thunder 12:00 PM (ET) FOX
PATRIOTS IN NFL EUROPE
WR RICKY BRYANT, Hamburg Sea Devils - Played in four games, starting four. Finished with 12 receptions for 177 yards and four touchdowns, including a 40-yard score.
RB KORY CHAPMAN, Cologne Centurions - Started all 10 games. Finished second in league with 718 rushing yards on 126 attempts for an NFL Europe-best 5.7-yard average. Rushed for five touchdowns, including a 42-yard score. Caught 15 passes for 154 yards. Led team with a 21.0-yard kickoff return average.
LB STEEN GRANT, Frankfurt Galaxy - Started all 10 games. Led team with 62 tackles. Registered one pass defensed.
WR CEDRIC JAMES, Rhein Fire - Played in eight games, starting eight. Led team with 29 receptions for 515 yards and five touchdowns, including a 73-yard scoring strike.