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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Cardinals cruise to win in Mexico

Greg Beacham Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – The NFL threw a fiesta at Azteca Stadium, and the biggest regular-season crowd in league history turned up wearing vibrant colors and singing raucous cheers.

Mexico’s 103,467 fans created a thrilling atmosphere at the league’s first regular-season game outside the United States – even if the Arizona Cardinals’ 31-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers wasn’t exactly the most savory version of “futbol americano.”

Josh McCown passed for a career-high 385 yards and two touchdowns against the Niners’ pathetic pass defense, and Neil Rackers kicked a career-best six field goals through the 7,700-foot air.

But the sloppy play and one-sided result in a game between two of the NFL’s worst teams seemed secondary to the goodwill and international exposure of a foreign venture the league hopes to turn into an annual affair.

The cavernous arena was packed to the rafters with a crowd that exceeded the league’s most optimistic projections two days ago, proving the sport’s avid following in Mexico is second to none outside the United States.

“The experience in Mexico City has been wonderful, and this capped it off,” said Rackers, who fell one short of the NFL record for field goals in a game. “It was wonderful. They’re great fans, really into the game, more knowledgeable than I thought they would be. It was probably the best crowd I’ve been around.”

The Cardinals agreed to give up a home game to make history, and the NFC West rivals played in front of 68,398 more fans than they drew for last season’s meeting at Sun Devil Stadium. The crowd topped the previous NFL record for a regular-season game, when 102,368 fans saw the Los Angeles Rams play the 49ers at the L.A. Coliseum on Nov. 10, 1957.

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