Monday, 28 January 2013

A Winter Feast, Part Two - NFC Championship game


By John Winter


One of the major things that struck me whilst watching the NFC championship game was how different it was to the international series games I have previously attended at Wembley.
Yes, at Wembley the crowd is passionate about the game and yes it does get loud but in terms of pure passion and volume the crowd at the Georgia Dome for the match between the 49ers and the Falcons was in a different league and the NFC championship match was a completely different animal to that of the International Series games.
The American fans were also a lot more keyed in, when the home team Falcons had the ball the stadium fell extremely quiet but when the Falcons were on D the whole crowd picked up with Atlanta fans yelling at the top of their voices and waving their towels (the Pittsburgh Steelers should have patented that).
The seat I had in the Georgia Dome, about halfway up the upper tier and towards the corner, was arguably one of the ‘nosebleed seats’, but I neither felt far away from the action or particularly high up. Especially when the team with the ball was attacking the end I was closest to it felt like I was on top of the action and really a part of the game.
This proximity of the whole crowd to the pitch would certainly contribute to the noise levels. During the previous game at the Georgia Dome against the Seahawks levels peaked at 117.8 decibels and noise levels of a similar measurement, if not louder, would very likely have been recorded during the 49ers game. This was evident in the finals minutes of the game when the 49ers were attempting to run down the clock and a delay of game penalty occurred when the center could not hear Kaepernick calling for the ball to be snapped.
The Falcons amped up the noise and atmosphere with their ‘rise-up’ motif being used to psyche up the fans and players alike. Before the game and second half the official rise-up video featuring Samuel L. Jackson was played (because when Samuel L. Jackson yells at you to ‘rise-up’, you do!) and throughout the defensive drives players would appear on the jumbo-tron screen to urge the players to make noise and ‘rise-up’. It may seem cheesy but it definitely worked, on key plays such as in the red-zone and on third down the noise was incredible, it adds another perspective to the appreciation of the skill of NFL players with the ability to even focus in such a noise.

The game, as the first ever NFC championship game being hosted at the Georgia Dome, was undoubtedly going to be a raucous affair, but the level of noise inside the dome was incredible. It goes to show how professional and focused the NFL players are to go virtually unhindered because if it was such a massive advantage then every team would have a dome stadium. But regularly being faced with large crowds sometimes even from high school up by the time they get to the pro’s this is something that they should be used to.
It made me wonder how crowd noise would affect UK teams though if faced with the likes of the 71,000 screaming fans of the Georgia Dome, maybe the Birmingham Lions would be alright.

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