LONDON (AP) - Not even someone as impeccably prepared as Giants coach Tom Coughlin had a strategy to help five team buses crawl through London's notoriously difficult gridlock.
He did, however, know that very little about this history making trip overseas was going to be easy.
``I told the players, you just put a smile on your face and realize that some things aren't going to run as smoothly as you're used to,'' Coughlin said Friday after the Giants arrived for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, the NFL's first regular-season contest to be played outside of North America.
The Dolphins also arrived Friday. Players, coaches and wives and families from both teams boarded caravans of buses, then took the tedious drives from the airport to their respective hotels and then to their practice facilities.
NFL owners recently voted 32-0 to expand the league's international footprint and bring regular-season games to London and beyond.
Asked how the NFL coaches might have voted had they been asked - well, Coughlin just laughed at that one.
``At some point in time, obviously, the people, the higher-ups, the Maras and the Tischs, made the decision that we could play this game,'' he said of the Giants owners. ``So we'll go with that.''
Working on little sleep, both teams shook off the cobwebs and went through light practices and meetings with no deep thought involved - a routine unlike any they've ever held at their own facilities.
``Earlier in the meetings, you could see people were tired,'' Giants defensive end Michael Strahan said. ``They looked beaten up pretty badly. But now, everyone's awake, feeling good. Now the test is to see if they can go back to the hotel and stay awake until it's time to go to bed. That's the key.''
After receiving all kinds of conflicting advice on how to handle jet lag and quick turnarounds, both Coughlin and Dolphins coach Cam Cameron made the choice to prepare for four days at home - including Tuesday, which is normally an off day for players - then make the trip Thursday night and arrive Friday morning.
``What time is it?'' Cameron joked before he started his interview session.
Basically, neither team built any nap time into Friday's schedule. Cameron told his players to get as much sleep as they could on the plane. Some got luckier than others.
``I got a chance to get moved upstairs, so I got like seven hours,'' said Miami running back Jesse Chatman of his first-class seat. ``I wasn't down there with the guards.''
Quarterback Cleo Lemon was.
``Me and my wife were surrounded by like 10 300- and 350-pound guys,'' Lemon said. ``We were crammed in together. We heard a lot of jokes, a lot of weird noises.''
If only he were cozied up to them like that on the field.
The Dolphins (0-7) are winless and there is a sense that this odyssey might benefit them, if only because it breaks the numbing monotony that losing often promotes.
``When you're losing some games, it's nice to get something to break up the rhythm a bit,'' Dolphins kicker Jay Feely said. ``That could work to our advantage. When you're winning, you don't want anything to change, and coaches in particular are very focused on trying to keep everything the same, whether it's the day you go out, the time you go out, the food you eat on the plane.''
Which could be a problem for the Giants (5-2), who have won five in a row and trail Dallas by one game in the tough NFC East heading to the midpoint of the season.
Given their momentum, this seems like no time to take a 3,500-mile trip, no time to sit in traffic, no time to not really know how they'll feel physically when they take the field Sunday.
Not that Coughlin didn't try.
A coach so thorough he once took a handheld video camera to the field so he could study frame-by-frame breakdowns of the center-quarterback snap, Coughlin contacted doctors and fitness experts trying to find the quintessential answer for how to handle jet lag on major trips like this.
He had no real luck.
``Things went from one end of the spectrum to the other,'' Coughlin said. ``It wasn't as conclusive as I'd have liked it to be.''
So, he went with what he knew: Stay relaxed. Get some sleep on the flight. Go with the flow. Keep smiling.
Remember, they're on this journey for something bigger than just the Giants this week - or so they've been told.
``To be honest, those kind of questions are beyond me,'' Coughlin said. ``As I've said, normally, it's total tunnel vision. I've expanded that a little bit in this particular area. But still, we're here for one reason and one reason only, and that's to play a very, very important football game. The players are fully aware of what's at stake. We do enjoy the idea of winning.''

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