In this photo made with a fisheye lens, Austin Amon, left, and Ryan Johnson, right, paint an NFL championship logo Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Seattle as they prepare CenturyLink Field for Sunday's NFL football NFC championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
SEATTLE— CenturyLink Field was constructed to be a cauldron of noise.
And the din created by Seattle Seahawks fans is jet-engine loud and has been wreaking havoc on opponents since the stadium opened in 2002. The Seahawks take great pride in their caffeinated fans, with a note in every weekly release citing that Seattle has caused the most opponent false start penalties since 2005.
“Our following has been extraordinary,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re blessed to have so much love and care for this team. Our area just gets riled up. There is something about it. Every interview you read from a player who has visited here continues to echo the impact and the factor that it has.”
Here are six times this season the 12th Man has seen its voice lead to results:
LIGHTNING BOLT: Twice this season, Seattle took honors as the loudest outdoor stadium in the world, as verified by Guinness World Records. The first came in the lightning-delayed home opener against San Francisco when the fans registered 136.6 decibels.
After Kansas City fans took the record in October, Seattle again claimed the title when fans hit 137.6 decibels during a Monday night win over New Orleans in December.
SPEED OF SOUND: Name another stadium becoming known for seismic activity. Twice this season, scientists registered seismic activity following individual plays at CenturyLink Field: Michael Bennett’s fumble return for a touchdown on Dec. 2 against New Orleans and Marshawn Lynch’s 31-yard touchdown run last week that clinched Seattle’s playoff win over the Saints.
Both were small tremors, but added to the lore created by Lynch’s 67-yard “Beast Quake” touchdown run against the Saints in the 2010 playoffs.
NOT FOR YOU: Colin Kaepernick showed in Week 2 he could be rattled in Seattle. Russell Wilson had just thrown an interception in the first quarter and San Francisco had a chance to take control. The 49ers reached their own 43-yard line, but on successive plays had a noise-induced false start, incomplete pass, delay of game where Kaepernick was unaware of the play clock and a short completion before punting.
The 49ers did not run a play beyond their own 43 until the middle of the third quarter when Seattle led 12-0.
PARTING WAYS: The most hyped NFC game of the season came Dec. 2 when the 10-1 Seahawks hosted the 9-2 Saints. It could not have gotten off to a worse start for New Orleans. The Saints knew it was going to be loud, to the point they used special ear plugs. But muting the noise also made blocking changes on the offensive line difficult to hear. Center Brian de la Puente clearly missed a change on the first play of the game. He left Brandon Mebane unblocked and he smothered Pierre Thomas for a 4-yard loss.
It was a precursor to Seattle’s 34-7 victory.
FOOTSTEPS: It came in Seattle’s lone home loss this year, but showed just how even the best players in the NFL can be rattled.
One play after Arizona left guard Daryn Colledge was flagged for a false start, the Cardinals faced a third-and-long at the Seattle 36. Larry Fitzgerald lined up in the slot and was late getting off the line because of struggles communicating with an outside receiver. The late jump allowed Richard Sherman to get position. When Carson Palmer decided to force the pass, Sherman made a diving interception.
NO MORE: Timeouts are always precious playing in Seattle and New Orleans regretted wasting them late in Saturday’s playoff loss. New Orleans had to burn two timeouts in the fourth quarter to avoid delay of game penalties. The second timeout proved most costly. The Saints had just completed a 52-yard pass to Robert Meacham to put them deep in Seattle territory. That was immediately followed by a delay of game penalty and then an incomplete pass.
With the play clock running down again, Drew Brees called the Saints’ second time out. After two more incompletions, the Saints were forced to try a 48-yard field goal that went wide left. The lack of timeouts proved huge when New Orleans scored late and recovered an onside kick.
“You can’t say that it doesn’t factor in, but you just try to minimalize how it factors in,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.