Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrive in London overshadowed by the New England Patriots

LONDON — Two days before their regular-season game in Wembley Stadium, the Bucs already were trailing the Patriots.

They came from behind Friday night, arriving at their hotel across the street from Hyde Park about 17 hours after New England arrived in London.

The Patriots also have had two more practices to prepare for the Sunday game. They opted to work out Thursday in Foxborough, Mass., and Friday morning at the Oval cricket grounds in the Kensington section of London.

"I think it's an advantage for them," Bucs center Jeff Faine said. "I think it's unfortunate, that's just how it worked out. But any time you have a chance to prepare an extra day, it's nothing we can catch up (to), really. We just have to hope we can catch up a little bit mentally and hope we'll be ready for Sunday."

The Patriots certainly know how to make an entrance. They arrived at practice Friday with about 100 British and other media waiting. Quarterback Tom Brady said his team was focused and not overconfident despite coming off a 59-0 victory over winless Tennessee, a game in which he threw six touchdown passes, five in the second quarter.

Their owner, Robert Kraft, made headlines when he said he believes the NFL should expand to London within the next 10 years. But despite all the hoopla, Brady had both hands on the wheel.

"I think that's the important thing, not to lose focus of everything we've done, because there are plenty of distractions," he said.

Meanwhile, the Bucs were greeted by more hotel staff than fans at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Two guys were wearing red jerseys, but that was about it.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he believed that the extra day in London would help his team adjust to the time difference. London is five hours ahead of the eastern United States.

"It was our decision," Belichick said. "What we tried to do was get all our work done in New England, all our preparation. This week we tried to cram Wednesday, Thursday and Friday into 21/2 days. … So we're just going to get out here and do some things (Friday) and try to get acclimated to the time change, plain and simple."

Meanwhile, Bucs players were given a midnight curfew, and some said they anticipated having trouble sleeping after arriving in London at about 6 p.m. EDT.

"Yeah, I'm wide awake," Faine said. "I think that's going to be the biggest problem, is getting to sleep and waking up (this) morning and having to deal with that."

Bucs coach Raheem Morris said the team consulted vice chairmen Joel and Bryan Glazer about the itinerary because both travel to England frequently because they own the Manchester United soccer club.

"We feel great because of how our bodies are going to be able to adapt," Morris said. "We've got a lot of experience with how (the Glazers) feel and how their bodies adapt. We'll have a nice, long extensive walk-through in the stadium (today) and a nice time at Wembley. We'll get some extra meetings in. We feel good about how we chose to travel and how it's going to work out."

Say this much: The Bucs and Patriots appear to understand that this is more than just another regular-season game.

"The political answer is to say we're approaching it as a regular game," Faine said. "But it is different. Who are you kidding?

"You're in a totally different country. Facts are facts. We're all glad it's an experience, and hopefully it will be an enjoyable experience come Sunday."

Even the normally stoic Belichick grinned widely when asked about the atmosphere surrounding the game.

"I've been in the National Football League for 35 years, and it's the first time I've done something like this," Belichick said. "So it's kind of cool, and I'm looking forward to the experience this weekend at Wembley."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrive in London overshadowed by the New England Patriots 10/23/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 12:15am]

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