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Home sweet home, and then some
It was former Seahawks head man Chuck Knox who used to offer that explanation when presented with numbing numbers, and the Ring of Honor coach would always add, “That’s why they play the game, rather than just taking two wheelbarrows full of stats and dumping them at the 50-yard line.”
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“The ground shakes up there, and that’s pretty intense. It’s real loud. I mean, you can’t hear. You can’t hear the snap count. You can’t even hear the play in the huddle.”
Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who played with the NFC West rival 49ers the past seven seasons, on CenturyLink Field
But when the Seahawks play their games the way they do at CenturyLink Field, it’s pretty difficult to dismiss those numbing numbers.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans at the state-of-the-art stadium that opened in 2002, the Seahawks have won 10 consecutive regular-season home games – all eight last season and their first two this season.
They have outscored those 10 opponents 317-115. They’ve beaten good teams – including the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco last season, when all four advanced to the playoffs. They thumped not-so-good teams – including a 58-0 shutout of the Arizona Cardinals last season and 42-13 and 29-3 victories over the 49ers during their current run.
The Seahawks have gone undefeated at home three times in franchise history, and all three have come at the venue that was originally called Seahawks Stadium, then became Qwest Field and now goes by CenturyLink Field – 2003, 2005 and last season.
In their 11¼ seasons in the stadium, the Seahawks are 61-29 – including 19-7 under coach Pete Carroll.
“We’ve only lost three times at home since I’ve been here,” said special teams captain Heath Farwell, who joined the Seahawks midway through the 2011 season. “That’s just crazy.”
Crazy good. But why is that? Why is a good Seahawks an exceptionally good Seahawks team when it plays at home? We asked those involved for an obvious reason – and we know what that is – but also a less-obvious factor in this beyond-home field advantage.
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, whose 14 interceptions since joining the Seahawks as a fifth-round draft choice in 2011 lead the league during that span – with nine of them coming at home:
Obvious: “Well, we have great fans, first off. The 12th Man is always great. We try to play well everywhere. But it’s always fun getting in front of our fans and the energy they bring and the tenacity they bring, regardless of the score. They don’t care if we’re up, we’re down, they’re going to cheer as loud as they can every play. And we enjoy playing in front of them and putting on a show for them.”
Less-obvious: “You get into a certain routine playing at home. You see the same seats, the same fans sitting in those seats, the same stadium, the same intro. It’s one of those things where you get into a rhythm. You go other places, you’ve got to develop that.”
Obvious: “There’s something about our home crowd that just brings the energy out. We just kind of feed off them and we’re able to kind of make plays. We feed off each other, so it works great for us. Just the energy in that building is unbelievable. It’s so loud and it’s just electric in that place. It’s just an awesome place the play. It’s the best in the NFL.”
Less-obvious: “We feel like when we’re in that stadium we can’t be beat. There is something to be said for that. We feel dominant in there.”
Golden Tate, who was a second-round draft choice in 2010 and this season leads the team in receptions also the NFC punt-returner average.
Obvious: “The confidence is through the roof. We have a lot of confidence when we play at home. We know that the 12 is going to show up and really affect the game, more so for the opponents’ offense. Which is huge. Just the energy that they bring fuels us. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what it is – why we play so well at home. But you can just feel it. You can feel the passion and emotion that we have, and also from the 12.”
Less-obvious: “I feed off the crowd. I’ve always been a guy who plays well when all eyes are on him. That’s just kind of the player that I’ve always been. And I definitely feed off our crowd, looking up and seeing them going crazy. It’s just awesome. They’re loud and passionate, and that’s how I play the game. So obviously I respect what they’re doing.”
Carroll, who knows a little something about home-field advantages after his USC teams went 49-5 at home in his nine seasons as coach.
Obvious: “Other stadiums we’ve played in are great stadiums and great crowds and all that, but this one is the best. So it’s a great week for us to get home and get right.”
Less-obvious: “Because it’s such an exuberant crowd, the factor on the opponent might be more apparent here. That’s maybe where we get as much help as anything. Just the communications are obstructed and it’s hard to focus and concentrate when it’s as loud as it is here. So really, you’d have to ask the other guys.”
No problem, the Tennessean did that this week. And Delanie Walker, the Titans’ tight end who visited Seattle annually the previous seven seasons while playing for the NFC West rival 49ers, said, “The ground shakes up there, and that’s pretty intense. It’s real loud. I mean, you can’t hear. You can’t hear the snap count. You can’t even hear the play in the huddle.”