SEATTLE — It Might Get Loud. Does It Go To 11?
I have my earplugs. I am ready for Patriots vs. Seahawks at CenturyLink Field Sunday afternoon. Like the coach of the Seahawks, everybody here is pumped, jacked, and amped. This was the birthplace of Boeing, and Seattle fans pride themselves on their ability to generate the sound of a 747 taking off from Logan.
For a playoff game against the Saints in January 2011, Seattle fans rocked their stadium enough to register as a small earthquake on a seismometer near their home field. They were nominated for the coveted cover of “Madden 12.’’ They are going to make life tough on the Patriots today.
Seattle has more than White Noise. The Seahawks have Black & Blue Noise. It can hurt you if you can’t hear.
Bill Belichick usually dismisses these ancillary issues. If it’s not a question about Cover 2, gap blocks, or punt coverage, we risk being dismissed with, “I don’t know anything about that. I’m just trying to do what’s best for our football team.’’
Not this time. Belichick believes the noise is a factor. He admits it gives the Seahawks a competitive advantage.
“I think it might be the loudest stadium that we’ve been in and we’re in a lot of loud ones,’’ said Belichick. “The crowd is totally into it. They do a great job of being loud, causing false start penalties and things like that on the offense.’’
Belichick turned up the volume during practice at Gillette Stadium last week. He bombarded his team with Green Day, Pearl Jam, and Jimi Hendrix.
I love the idea of Stevan Ridley taking a handoff to the tune of “All Along the Watchtower,’’ “Purple Haze,’’ or perhaps Hendrix’s skull-imploding national anthem at Woodstock.
Does Belichick know that Hendrix grew up in Seattle?
Bet he does. How could the master of preparation miss a detail like that one?
Last week’s beating of the Broncos in Foxborough was a nifty demonstration of what the Patriots can do when they play in a fan-friendly stadium. Gillette is routinely quiet, and Patriots fans are smart enough to go silent when Tom Brady is running the no-huddle offense.
You could hear Brady from the upper deck. You could hear him from the couch in your Man Cave.
“We can go pretty fast at home if we communicate well,’’ said Brady.
It won’t be the same today.
“You just try to prepare as best you can,’’ said Brady. “I think that’s what you do, and there are a lot of practices where we have music and we don’t use any communication. It’s as loud as it can possibly be because you’re not really communicating. They certainly get loud when they make plays.’’
“There’s nothing like it,’’ said Seattle’s rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson. “I played in a lot of stadiums in college, playing in front of 100,000 people, and here I’m not sure exactly what it is — it’s probably 65,000 or 66,000, I’m not sure exactly — but it’s ferocious in that stadium.
“Just how loud it is, and the energy that the 12th Man fans bring in CenturyLink, there’s nothing like it in the National Football League, I’m sure.’’
“I’ve had an opportunity to be there three or four times, and it never disappoints in terms of how loud and how vocal they’re going to be,’’ said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “It will be important for us to do a good job of communicating and paying attention to all of the little details, so that we make sure that we can work together and try to execute our assignments the best we can.’’
“It’s not just offense,’’ added Belichick. “It’s your punt protection, it’s on the field goals, it’s all those plays.’’
The Seahawks are 3-2, but one victory was a gift from replacement officials (remember “Monday Night Football” against Green Bay — the true tipping point in the referee charade?). Another victory was against Carolina. The Seahawks force a lot of fumbles, but they also have a rookie quarterback, and rookie quarterbacks beat Belichick about as often as A-Rod hits a walkoff homer in October.
Brady has never been in this stadium. The Patriots’ only appearance at CenturyLink (it was then Qwest Field) was a 24-21 Matt Cassel-led victory over the Seahawks in December 2008.
“There probably aren’t many that I haven’t played in at this point, but this will be fun,’’ Brady said. “It’s always nice when you take 53 guys on the road and you say, ‘This is all we’ve got and this is all we need and this is what we have to do.’
“And see 70,000 fans, if you can keep them quiet or turn them on their own team. I think that’s an exciting part for road teams, is to see if you can get them booing their own players.’’
That would be a beautiful noise.