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BAGSHOT, England – Heading into this weekend's game, the Detroit Lions have the No. 1 defense in the NFL.
Make that the world.
Already overseas and practicing, the Lions (5-2) will face the Atlanta Falcons (2-5) on Sunday in the second of three regular-season games this year at Wembley Stadium in London.
"We're not afraid to go anywhere, anyplace and go out there and play and execute what we need to get done," Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh said Wednesday. "It comes from our coach. The attitude that he brings with us, understanding that it doesn't make a difference whether we're in London, or at home, or have to go to Atlanta."
Detroit leads the league in total defense, ranking second in stopping the rush and seventh in pass defense.
The Lions arrived in London on Tuesday, a day after the Falcons landed in Britain and two days after Detroit's come-from-behind 24-23 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Sunday's game is a first for both the Lions and Falcons in London but the 10th NFL game at the home stadium of England's national soccer team. It will make for an early start back home — the 1:30 p.m. kickoff in London translates to 9:30 a.m. on the East Coast.
The fans may find the starting time to be a bit out of the ordinary, but the Lions made sure they were prepared for the cross-Atlantic flight, bringing in specialists to advise the players on how to get over the jet lag. Obvious things like sleeping on the plane were mentioned, but players were also told to wear sunglasses indoors on the first day.
"I tried to sleep on the plane, wasn't the most comfortable plane ride," receiver Golden Tate said. "Especially after just playing on Sunday, a lot of the guys were still sore. Especially on Monday, that's when the soreness really kicks in.
"But we were told to stay up until 11 o'clock, once we got here, keep our shades on, take melatonin after 5, make sure we hydrate on the plane. And then once we got here not to sleep until we went to bed that night, which I didn't do, so might be why I'm struggling right now."
Before getting to Wembley for the game, the Lions are spending the week practicing south of the city at the facility used by England's national rugby team.
And the players and coaches are pretty impressed by it all — the two-story rooms, the practice fields, and even the spa with its sauna and hot tubs.
"The spa is amazing," running back Reggie Bush said. "I spent a lot of time over there yesterday, and I'll probably do the same today."
Seems like Pennyhill Park is the perfect place to recover, something Bush has been saying he could certainly use.
"It's just life as a running back. I haven't been 100 percent in I don't know how long," Bush said. "This game is going to keep moving with or without us, so you've got to find a way to play through that injury."
Lions coach Jim Caldwell, perhaps still feeling the effects of jet lag or possibly still struggling to adapt to the Queen's English, even managed to inadvertently create the word "sackle."
While speaking about the secondary and praising its ability to make plays all over the field, Caldwell meant to say safety James Ihedigbo was valuable because he could sack opposing quarterbacks. But he mashed the word sack with tackle.
"(Ihedigbo) had an effect on our team in terms of getting a couple of sackles, excuse me, sacks, already," Caldwell said.
"Did I put those two together, sackles?" Caldwell joked. "New word."
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