Seahawks' sound system

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Boisterous Seattle fans excel at causing opponents' false starts

December 21, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Normally, having 12 men earns a defense a quick penalty. But this Sunday, the Ravens will be dealing with a 12th man like no other.

Seattle Seahawks fans are renowned for their boisterous support and have contributed significantly to the home-field advantage the team has enjoyed at Qwest Field.

Since 2005, Seahawks opponents have been flagged an NFL-high 68 times for false starts - an average of 2.96 per game. The next closest is at the Metrodome, where Minnesota Vikings opponents have incurred 54 false starts.

"It's a noisy place," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "The fans have really started to enjoy football up here again, and they take great pride in making it a little hard on the opposition with the noise."

Added Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "It's very loud. In particular on third down, it's very loud. ... Our fans are great. They take a lot of pride in cheering for their team, and they've been good all year."

The Ravens have endured their fair share of illegal-procedure penalties this season. The offense has been flagged 22 times for false starts, but only three times in the past five contests.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason didn't seem too concerned about the crowd noise the Ravens can expect at Qwest Field.

"It makes it difficult, but this is not the first situation we've been in. This is not our first rodeo," he said. "We've been in some loud stadiums, and we had to improvise as a team. You go with a silent count, you do something different, you practice things differently on the practice field that would probably give you an advantage on the road. We're going to use some different things."

Injury update

In addition to quarterback Kyle Boller (concussion), linebackers Ray Lewis (dislocated finger), Terrell Suggs (thigh) and Gary Stills (knee), cornerback Samari Rolle (shoulder) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (thigh) did not practice for the second consecutive day.

Center Mike Flynn (foot) and tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring) were limited yesterday. Fullback Le'Ron McClain (back), safety Gerome Sapp (thigh) and offensive tackle Adam Terry (ankle) participated fully in practice.

Sack attack

As if the noise wasn't enough of a hurdle for the offensive line, the Seahawks' defense has collected 41 sacks this season - second only to the New York Giants' 49 - and 27 of those have occurred at home.

Defensive end Patrick Kerney, a valuable free-agent signing for Seattle, leads the NFL in sacks with 13 1/2 , and linebacker Julian Peterson is tied for 16th with nine.

"They're extremely athletic," left guard Jason Brown said of the Seahawks' pass rush. "They do a good job of moving around and containing the pocket. Similar to the Indianapolis defense, their guys are very fast and very athletic."

Containing Burleson

The Seahawks' Nate Burleson is one of just four players to return a kickoff and punt for touchdowns this season. (The others are the Ravens' Yamon Figurs, the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester and the San Diego Chargers' Darren Sproles.)

Keeping Burleson contained could go a long way toward handcuffing a Seattle offense that has scored 23.2 points per contest.

"He's a great special teams player," said cornerback Derrick Martin, who ranks fourth on the team with 16 special teams tackles. "He's a real strong returner. He's fast, and he's pretty strong, able to break tackles. So we're going to have to wrap up and make sure we cover well."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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