Eleven false starts in one game. That's all you need to know about what Qwest Field has come to mean for the Seattle Seahawks. Opponents don't lose there as much as they implode from over-exposure to unsafe decibel levels.
|Who has the No. 1 fans? Seahawks owner Paul Allen casts his vote. (Getty Images)|
The place drove the New York Giants over the edge. Eleven false-start penalties short-circuited their execution during a 24-21 loss to the Seahawks in late November. In the divisional playoff round Saturday, the Seahawks hung a 20-10 loss on a Washington Redskins offense that couldn't hear itself sputter.
The bigger the game, the bigger the noise.
"The crowd was awesome," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I don't think they can be any better. Except I'm going to ask them to be a little bit better next week. Keep pushing."
The only NFL franchise to retire a No. 12 jersey on behalf of its fans is no longer the only non-expansion franchise without a playoff victory since 1984. The victory also helped the franchise maintain the massive wave of momentum that developed during an 11-game winning streak during the regular season.
The team has received more than 9,000 season-ticket deposits for the 2006 season. The mayor dedicated a "Seattle Seahawks 12th Man Day" as Saturday's game approached. Mountain climber Ed Viesturs, the first American to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks, was enlisted to raise a "12th Man" flag atop the Space Needle some 600 feet above the city.
"Our fans have been incredible," Holmgren said.
Roughly two decades have passed since Seattle fans rocked the Kingdome so hard that quarterbacks often backed out from under center so they could beg the referee to restore order. The team lost a lot of games -- and fans -- during some lean years in the 1990s, but the old feeling has come back in recent years as Holmgren has made the team competitive again.
"The Seattle football fan has probably gone through some (bad) stuff in their history," Holmgren said. "We want to give our fans a team they can be proud of and talk about and be excited about and have hope. That has always been a goal.
"I think as we've gotten a little bit closer to being able to talk like that, that is a neat thing. That is a healthy thing and that is a good thing -- good for the community, I think. Certainly the fans are having fun, and it's good for the team."
The Seahawks were 8-0 at home in 2003 and 2005. The home record dipped to 5-3 in 2004 mostly because the Seahawks had serious problems on defense, many brought on by injuries. Even so, no NFL team has a better regular-season home record since Week 16 of the 2002 season. The Seahawks are 22-3 during that time.
The Packers were 54-7 at Lambeau Field (counting playoffs) when Holmgren coached the team from 1992 through 1998.