The Sound Has Effects in Seattle
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
KIRKLAND, Wash., Jan. 9 -- All defensive tackle Chartric Darby could hear was white noise.
The Qwest Field stands were thumping, the fans were screaming like schoolchildren and opposing offensive linemen were jumping offside at an alarming pace -- 11 times, in fact, in a single afternoon. While the Seattle Seahawks' defensive players had to rely on a series of hand signals just to make their calls, the deafening effects did even worse damage on the visiting New York Giants.
Nationally, the Seahawks' 24-21 overtime win over the Giants on Nov. 27 might be remembered for the three unsuccessful Jay Feely field goal attempts at the end of regulation and overtime, but in Seattle it's being recalled as the game when the "12th Man" led the way to victory.
"Oh, man," Darby said last week, licking his lips at the very memory of that game. "This might be one of the loudest stadiums out there. You've got [opposing] offensive linemen jumping offside; they can't get the snap count. The fans are crazy. It's real loud, and that's to our advantage."
And the Seahawks' home-field advantage doesn't stop there.
Whether it's the energy of a fan base that has only recently embraced this team, or the thousands of miles opponents have to travel just to play in Seattle, the Seahawks have shown they have one of the biggest home-field advantages in football.
The Seahawks (13-3) recently finished off an unbeaten home schedule, marking the second time they've done that in the past three seasons. Since the team moved into the new downtown stadium in 2002, Seattle has gone 24-8 at home during the regular season. The Seahawks are 21-4 there the past three seasons and also went undefeated at home in 2003.
So if the thought of facing Shaun Alexander and the NFC's top-ranked offense isn't daunting enough for the Washington Redskins, maybe a road trip to unfriendly confines is.
"The important thing is that we don't have to get on a plane" this week, Seattle defensive end Bryce Fisher said. "And anybody that has to play us has to get on a plane and travel a long way."
In a sense, the Redskins will know what it's like to walk a mile in the Seahawks' shoes -- or fly 2,300 miles, as the case may be.
Because of its location, Seattle's professional teams log more miles than anyone else's. In eight road games this year, the Seahawks traveled approximately 28,500 air miles, with the 678-mile flight to San Francisco being the equivalent of the Redskins traveling to Baltimore to play the Ravens.
By comparison, the Redskins had one of their more taxing seasons in terms of road trips but put in about half the travel mileage of the Seahawks.