Now hear this: CenturyLink Field tough test for Colts
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When it comes to describing what’s awaiting them on their upcoming business trip, the Indianapolis Colts could do worse than seek counsel from Frank Gore.
Seattle’s CenturyLink Field? He’s been there, and probably has some type of damage to his eardrums to prove it
“It’s loud. It’s real loud,’’ Gore said Wednesday. “It’s crazy out there. Loudest stadium I’ve been to.’’
This from a 34-year old running back whose 183-game career includes 10 visits into Seattle’s thunderous stadium when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.
“When I was with San Fran, we didn’t like each other so they (were) going extra wild,’’ Gore said with a smile.
The stadium literally vibrates as 68,000 fans crank up the decibel level.
“Yeah, especially when Marshawn (Lynch) was there and he’d make a big run,’’ Gore said. “The crowd would go crazy.’’
Lynch and his Beast Mode persona now are in Oakland, but the threat of over-the-top, discombobulating noise remains.
“Tough place to play,’’ Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a great venue . . . will be a ton of electricity and energy in that stadium.’’
“None like that,’’ he added when asked how CenturyLink compared with other venues. “When it gets rockin’ there, that stadium shakes and you can’t hear yourself think.’’
Occasionally prone to hyperbole, Pagano was spot on regarding the threat to the lines of communication being disrupted.
“It’s tough when you can’t hear the quarterback,’’ Gore said.
You can’t hear the QB, who’s generally standing a few yards away?
“You can’t hear him. Can’t,’’ he said. “It’s tough, man.’’
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett laughed when informed of Gore’s comments.
“Tell him to listen because I’ll be talking,’’ he said. “I shouldn’t have a voice after the game. That’s my goal.’’
Brissett was asked the loudest opposing stadium he’s had to deal with.
“I’ve been in a lot of loud places,’’ he said, struggling to come up with one. “We’ve played daytime, nighttime.
“We’re playing nighttime now. Everybody’s drunk then. I’m guessing it will be very loud.’’
All joking aside, the Colts are taking every precaution in their preparations for the din that awaits them in the Great Northwest.
Music normally serves as a rhythmic backdrop at the beginning of practices. Wednesday, sideline amps were turned up to their limits and remained there throughout practice.
“You just make sure when you’re on the practice field and we’ve got the crowd noise you hone in and focus on the task at hand,’’ Brissett said. “Really lock in at practice.
“There’s always going to be challenges when you go away.’’
But more so when you venture into the Seahawks’ backyard.
Since CenturyLink Field opened in 2002, the Seahawks are 86-35 (.711) at home. Only the Green Bay Packers, 87-34-1 at Lambeau Field, have a better home record among NFC teams.
Credit the presence of Seattle’s vaunted “12th Man’’ as well as the roster put together by coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
“Talented, talented football team,’’ Pagano said. “Game-wreckers all over the place. They’ve got some werewolves rushing the passer.’’
That imminent threat, intensified by the crowd noise, has enticed opposing offenses to be penalized for false starts 155 times in 97 games since 2005, most in the league over that stretch.
And here come the Colts, who have been whistled for an NFL-high seven false starts in three games. It’s been a group effort: two for left guard Jeremy Vujnovich and one each for center Deyshawn Bond, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Jack Mewhort and right tackles Joe Haeg and Denzelle Good.
Surprisingly, six of the seven false starts have occurred in the last two weeks in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s on us,’’ Mewhort said. “It’s something we’ve got to get fixed internally.’’
It’s clear Pagano’s patience is being tested with the rash of false starts. They’re normally an indication of a lack of pre-snap focus.
“Get off on the snap count,’’ he said. “Very, very simple.
“You can’t do it. First-and-15 up there? C’mon.’’
Another hurdle to overcome: Brissett will be making his third straight start for the rehabbing Andrew Luck and the fifth of his career. In six previous career appears, he’s been on the field for just three plays on the road — in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
On top of that, Brissett must operate the Colts offense with the silent cadence while working with rookie center (Bond).
The key to it all is going out and executing against a defense that features Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Bobby Wagner and others.
“We’ve got to go out there and make plays and try to quiet the crowd down,’’ Gore said. “You’ve got to make plays.’’
As Gore has discovered, if you aren’t able to quiet the crowd early, things can get downright ugly. He’s 3-7 at CenturyLink Field, which includes rushing for 144 yards in a 24-14 49ers’ win in 2006. But the seven losses were by an average of 24 points.