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Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Opponents trying to quiet Qwest Field?

Seattle Times staff reporter

Crowd noise, by the numbers


11

False-start penalties by the Giants in their last game at Qwest Field, Nov. 27, a 24-21 Seattle win in OT.

5

The referee can assess a 5-yard penalty or a loss of timeouts for excessive crowd noise.

$20,000

Fine on Washington for supplementing crowd noise with the PA system in a 2000 NFL game.

The day after the game, coach Mike Holmgren awarded a game ball to Seattle's crowd. That ball is on display in one of the four lounges that can be accessed by club-level ticket holders.

The Seahawks are 22-3 at home since the start of the 2003 season, tied with New England for best home record in the league over that time. But it was last season's victory over the Giants that really defined Qwest Field as one of the loudest stadiums in the league.

Sunday

New York Giants at Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

The game is still days away, and already there has been a little ruckus over just how raucous Qwest Field could be Sunday.

Both the Seahawks and New York Giants have been notified the NFL will be monitoring this weekend's game, according to a league source, and the notice mentioned allegations that artificial noise has been piped into Seattle's stadium.

The notice did not specify who alleged the noise of the crowd at Qwest Field had been enhanced, but both teams were informed that the league's observers will be watching for violations of the NFL's crowd-noise policy.

The Seahawks declined to comment Tuesday, which is the day the team does not practice. The Giants likewise declined to comment.

Michael Signora, NFC information manager, said league policy is not to comment on any communications between a team and the league, and that every game is monitored by league observers to ensure compliance with a number of guidelines, including those on crowd noise.

Seattle beat the Giants 24-21 in overtime last season on Nov. 27. The Giants were penalized 11 times for false starts in that game, and Luke Petitgout, the Giants' starting left tackle, was assessed five of those penalties. The Giants also missed three field goals.

"That stuff matters," Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said Monday of the crowd's impact on last year's game. "And it matters in a big, big way. If that game was at Giants Stadium, we wouldn't have won it, I know that."

"That's where it all started," linebacker Lofa Tatupu said Monday.

The league's policy on crowd noise states the NFL does not try to restrict spontaneous cheering by fans, but it does require the team to "exert proper control" of cheerleaders and mascots and restricts the use of scoreboards and message boards to encourage crowd noise.

It also addresses noise that is under "club control," which includes music and other sound effects inside the stadium. That noise must stop once the play clock begins when the opposing team has the ball.

The league prohibits megaphones, whistles and other artificial noisemakers, and scoreboards or cheerleaders can not be used to start the wave.

Teams are allowed to have four speakers on the field, but they must be located between the goal line and the 20-yard line, and must be pointed away from the team benches on the sidelines. Any noise from those speakers must stop once the play clock starts during a visiting team's possession.

The crowd-noise guidelines state the league does not try to restrict spontaneous crowd noise, but the guidelines do mention the rules passed in 1989 to deal with crowd noise that is so loud the opposing team can not hear its signals. A team can lose timeouts or be assessed 5-yard penalties. Those rules resulted from the noise inside the Kingdome — the Seahawks' former stadium — but are rarely enforced now.

There were four penalties for false starts against Arizona in Seattle's home opener last Sunday, and the volume only figures to increase for this weekend's game given the profile of the opponent and what happened last year.

"Our fans [on Sunday] were tremendous," Holmgren said Monday. "Our fans will remember that game last year.

"They will remember the part they played in that game, and I'm convinced they are going to be cranked up and ready to go again this Sunday."

Note

• The Seahawks signed C-G Thatcher Szalay to their practice squad Tuesday, releasing CB Gerard Ross to make room on the eight-man unit. Szalay played in four games on special teams for the Ravens last season after being signed from the Seahawks' practice squad in December.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com. Reporter José Miguel Romero contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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