Unified, energized Patriots head to Seattle as one
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks to running back Stevan Ridley (22) during a catch and run drill at practice at the NFL football team's facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) Purchase photo reprints »
New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) tries to pull the ball from starting quarterback Tom Brady's arm as they run next to each other during a drill at practice at the NFL football team's facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) Purchase photo reprints »
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with injured tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) who practiced at the NFL football team's facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) Purchase photo reprints »
FOXBOROUGH (AP) — Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense won’t be facing just 11 members of the Seattle Seahawks defense Sunday.
It will be closer to 70,000.
The Patriots all week have been pumping loud music through the speakers during practices to prepare for the hostile and rowdy Seattle fans set to pack into CenturyLink Field, one of three current NFL stadiums Brady has never played in.
Nonetheless, the quarterback knows exactly what to expect, and precisely what he wants to do.
“There probably aren’t many that I haven’t played in at this point. But this will be fun,” Brady said. “It’s always nice when you take 53 guys on the road and you say, ‘This is all we’ve got and this is all we need and this is what we have to do.’ And see 70,000 fans, if you can keep them quiet or turn them on their own team.
“I think that’s an exciting part for road teams, is to see if you can get them booing their own players.”
Dealing with the Seahawks’ much-improved defense is the first challenge, though.
Seattle leads the league in yards allowed, surrendering merely 258.6 a game, and ranks second in points allowed per game with 14, slightly behind San Francisco’s stingy unit.
Green Bay and Dallas already experienced the wrath of this burgeoning unit. The pair of potent offenses posted just 12 and seven points, respectively, in their losses on the West Coast.
“They have a really good defense, the best one in the league,” Brady said. “Statistically, top five in almost every category.”
The crowd noise, though? That’s an entirely different problem for New England.
The Seahawks are 53-29 at home since their stadium first opened in 2002, and are undeniably aided by their famed “12th Man,” known to routinely rattle opposing offenses and force them into false starts and other uncharacteristic penalties.
A “12th Man” flag is even raised before every home game, symbolizing the boisterous and blaring bunch. Traditionally, it riles them up even more — as if that was necessary.
“We know it’s definitely an issue. We know what the numbers are and all that. We’ve talked about it. It just comes down to being mentally focused and concentrating, being mentally tough,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We know it’s going to be loud. We can crank up the noise here as loud as you want to crank it up. In the end, Sunday, we’re going to have to go out there and we know we’re going to have to deal with it.
“It’s not just offense, it’s your punt protection, it’s on the field goals, it’s all those plays. We’ve played in a lot of loud stadiums before but there’s none louder than Seattle. I think they’re as loud as anybody. We’ll just have to do a good job with our communication and just our mental alertness.”
Brady has yet to play at Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Seattle, as he was injured in 2008 when New England last trekked across the country to play the 49ers and Seahawks. When he last played the Buccaneers, it was in London in 2009. That said, crowd noise is nothing new to the three-time Super Bowl champion.
“I’m actually excited to get out there and play in a place I’ve never played,” he said. “I think what makes it loud is that they’re very good. So, when they make plays, the crowd is into it and they get a lot of support.
“They’ve certainly been making a lot of (plays) at home. They beat two very good teams at home — Dallas and Green Bay. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and I’m excited to go out there and see what we can do.”
Like Brady, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty also is making his first visit to Seattle, yet isn’t too concerned. He’s already played a night game in Baltimore three weeks ago and routinely travels to New York to face the Jets.
Besides, whenever the Patriots are in town, the home crowd is ready to roll regardless of the venue.
“I think a lot of times for us, when we go on the road, we always know the crowd’s always amped up,” McCourty said. “I’ve heard Seattle’s probably one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, so I think it should be something that excites us, to go out there and play in a challenging environment and to go out there and try and produce.”