Even though dome teams historically
But why exactly is the noise such a problem for certain players and a factor in the outcome of games? Let's examine the three big advantages that the noise should give to the home dome teams this weekend -- the Saints, Vikings and to a lesser extent the Colts (Lucas Oil Stadium is not nearly as deafening as the RCA Dome used to be).
This is most pronounced at the start of the game and a reason road teams talk about withstanding the first five minutes of an important game. I truly believe the electric atmosphere can enable players on the kickoff team to run just a little faster and pound into the blocker or runner just a little harder.
When the crowd is going bonkers, the home team players, mainly on defense and special teams because of the nature of what they do, look like they're flying around with a renewed vigor. Probably because they are. It is especially critical for the away teams heading into these domes -- the Cardinals, Ravens and Cowboys -- to have success early to quiet the crowd a bit. If they don't, the decibel level will only increase.
That increased decibel level can make communication on offense extremely difficult -- and not just at the line of scrimmage.
"I played at the Metrodome last year when I was with the Texans," Vikings backup quarterback
That's pretty amazing when you consider that was just a regular season game against a nondescript team like Houston. This is the divisional playoffs against the love 'em or hate 'em Cowboys. Even after the Cowboys hear the play call in the huddle, there is more work to do.
"We have to get up to the line of scrimmage early so that
That's really the biggest schematic advantage to having a home crowd capable of generating ear-splitting noise. Most teams in the NFL package plays and go to the line of scrimmage with either a run/pass audible or a run left/run right check based upon the defense. If the crowd is loud enough, the option of changing the play at the line may have to be eliminated.
The most noticeable impact to the casual fan when watching a game in which noise is a factor is the amount of false starts an offensive tackle from the away team may have.
If the offense is using a lot of shotgun it will have to snap the ball using a silent cadence in which all of the offensive linemen time the snap by moving a full count after the center bobs his head. The major problems that arise from this are that sometimes the timing of one of the linemen may be off and he could end up being either a hair early or a split second too late. The first one is a penalty while the second one is probably a sack or worse. Also, the defensive linemen can usually start to time up that center's head as well, completely negating the snap count anticipation that is typically a part of an offensive lineman's arsenal. As a result, teams tend to go with a standard cadence throughout the game and guys like the
The bottom line is that it is not fun at all for away teams in hostile environments in general but that disadvantage is magnified once they have to venture indoors where the noise can no longer escape. How the Cardinals, Cowboys and Ravens handle that noise could tell the tale of whether or not they can escape with a victory.