Finland Defeats Sweden in Defensive Battle

All photos: Pål Stålnacke

Apparently an overnight ferry ride is the best way to prepare for an international football game. Team Finland rode the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and then handed their Swedish hosts a 14-10 defeat Saturday afternoon in the annual Sweden-Finland tilt at Stockholm Stadium, site of the 1912 Olympic Games.

This was the 16th game in the series which dates back to 1992 and with the win Finland drew even in the series as each team now has eight wins apiece.

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Emil Knutsson dives into the end zone for Sweden’s lone touchdown

It was obvious that neither team had been able to practice much as defenses ruled the day. Both head coaches, Tuomas Heikkinen for Finland and Johan Sedin for Sweden, were faced the the dilemma of putting together 53 man rosters and yet only having one practice to install an offense and defense. In those cases, normally defenses will have the upper hand and that was clearly the case Saturday afternoon.

Although Swedish quarterback Anders Hermodsson, who completed 13 of 32 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, opened the game well, guiding Sweden on a 14 play, 63 yard drive finishing it with a field goal, he could not find a true rhythm the rest of the game. His Finnish counterpart, Miro Kadmiry (12 of 27 for 133 yards, one touchdown) was not having much success himself early on but he seemed to get a little more comfortable as the game progressed when he started using his legs.

After Sweden’s opening drive, neither team could mount a consistent offense until Kadmiry found Sebastian Sagne for a 28 yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes left in the first half and Finland went into the break up 7-3.

The third quarter continued more or less the same with neither Finland nor Sweden being able to penetrate each other’s 20 yard line until Swedish safety Eric Murphy snagged an errant Kadmiry pass and took it back 33 yards. Hermodsson tossed a nine yard screen pass to running back Emil Knutsson and Sweden pulled ahead 10-7.

Sweden - Sweden v Finland 2015 2pic

Kadmiry and Hermodsson both struggled to find momentum

The fourth quarter continued with both defenses dominating until Finnish linebacker Santtu Äyräväinen picked off Hermodsson at Sweden’s 40 yard line and took the ball all the way back for a touchdown, giving the Finns a 14-10 lead which they would never relinquish.

Sweden did respond however, with Hermodsson mixing up his playcalling and also relying on his legs to take Sweden down to Finland’s 27 yard line. But, a holding call on what might have been the game’s winning touchdown catch by Jakob Dahre, snuffed out all hopes for Sweden as they could not advance past the 37 yard line. Hermodsson’s final fourth down pass attempt to Johnson fell incomplete and Finland kneeled out to end the game.

With the win, Finland broke Sweden’s string of eight consecutive victories in the game stretching back to 2003.

All photos: Pål Stålnacke

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.