The Seahawks' NFC West-winning 2020 season was full of dramatic moments at Lumen Field.
In Week 2, L.J. Collier upended Cam Newton at the goal line to secure a win over the Patriots, then a week later Ryan Neal intercepted Dak Prescott in the end zone to put the game on ice. In Week 5, Russell Wilson hit DK Metcalf for a game-winning touchdown on fourth down in the game's final seconds, capping an impressive 13-play, 94-yard scoring drive. Seattle's Week 11 victory over the Cardinals also came down to the wire, with Carlos Dunlap II recording the game-clinching sack, then in Week 16 the Seahawks celebrated an NFC West-clinching win over the Rams.
They were all great moments that helped shape a memorable season, but one huge factor was missing: the fans.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seahawks played the entire 2020 season in an empty stadium, which meant that, aside from the on-field celebration, the place didn't erupt in pandemonium when Collier took down Newton; the upper deck didn't shake when Metcalf secured his game-winner; the deafening noise didn't echo throughout Sodo when Dunlap threw Kyler Murray to the turf.
That all changes on Sunday, however, when the Seahawks are expecting a full house for their regular-season opener against the Tennessee Titans. After showing up with their proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72-hours, Seahawks fans will once again turn Lumen Field into the loudest environment in the NFL, and it's a welcome change for a team that missed having that noise and energy in 2020.
"I think it's going to be crazy," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "Our fans are really excited to be back; we're excited to have them back. Just hearing them in the preseason game where I don't feel like there was as many people as there's going to be, and it's the first game and it's a big team. It's going to be crazy, and hopefully it's as loud as I think it's going to be."
Said quarterback Russell Wilson, "I'm super excited to play in front of our fans. It will be super cool. Obviously we haven't had that chance in a while… To be back at Lumen Field and play at home, I know for the guys that haven't had that experience, guys like Jamal (Adams)—Gerald (Everett) has played here but on the other end of it—different players haven't had that experience, like our rookies and our second-year players, so it's great that we can all be together again, the blue and green. I know that matters to us all and it's good to be able to this and perform at the highest level."
As Wilson notes, a lot of players on Seattle's roster have either never played in front of fans at Lumen Field, or they've never done so as members of the Seahawks. Last season Dunlap talked on multiple occasions how much he looked forward to rushing the passer with the 12s behind him, while a player like Jamal Adams is the perfect player to feed off of the crowd while also helping energize the fans.
Last year's rookie class as well as this year's rookies will also be experiencing a rocking Lumen Field for the first time.
Asked what he had heard about the noise at Lumen Field, second-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks said, "Crazy. Loud. Obnoxious. As a football player, especially a defensive football player, that's what you love. You love the crowd going crazy. Everybody's yelling and throwing flags or whatever. I love that energy; it just gets us going as players. I'm excited to see what that's about."
Defensive end Darrell Taylor picked up a sack in his NFL debut last week, but he's looking forward to what a loud home crowd can do for him and the rest of the pass-rushers.
"Oh man, I can't freakin' wait," Taylor said. "I hope they pack it out. And it's the first home game? Woooo! They're about to pack it out. We're going to have a great time enjoying our fans being there since we couldn't have them last year. So it's going to be a great experience, and I can't wait to get out there and see what the 12s are really like."
After nearly all of the aforementioned big late-game moments, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll mentioned in post-game press conferences that he wished fans could have been there to celebrate with the team. The 2020 season was special for a lot of reasons, including another NFC West title, as well as the way the Seahawks handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than any team in the league, but an obvious factor was missing, and the Seahawks can't wait for the noise to return on Sunday.
"It's way different than it was a year ago just with the anticipation knowing people are coming to the game here," Carroll said. "We have such a special relationship with the 12s and the following around the Northwest. It was so uncomfortable last year to not share the experience with them, because the game has always been that, where we do it all together. To know now that are fans get to come, take part in it, and be in this game with us is a big deal. It's exciting, there's nothing bad about it, and it's all good but we want to make sure that everyone that comes brings the stuff that they need to get in and takes care of business so that they can enjoy the day and have a great outing. We are so excited that we get to do this."