METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' efforts to pump up the volume in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night were definitely inspired by the Saints' experience at Seattle six days earlier, according to coach Sean Payton.
The NFL has loosened restrictions on the amount of crowd noise being promoted inside stadiums over the past two years to help enhance the stadium experience for fans. And Payton said after seeing a team like Seattle use those advantages to the fullest, he wanted to make sure the Saints were doing the same.
That includes things like promoting crowd noise on stadium video boards and playing music and sound effects through the giant speakers on the sideline up until there are 20 seconds remaining on the play clock -- two things that were restricted in the past.
Teams are not allowed to pump simulated crowd noise through those speakers, and the noise must shut off after that 20-second mark or when a team lines up at the line of scrimmage.
"I think our fans are passionate, and I think our job is giving them the best opportunity to enjoy the experience at the Dome. It is all hand in hand, and I think it is an area that we need to work on, quite honestly," Payton said. "When you go somewhere and you take Seattle for example, you have a tough loss and you come away from that game, but you notice other things than just football. Actually, the environment is extremely difficult to play in, and there are a lot of things that have been well thought out. Your mind starts racing in regards to improving your home-field advantage with (things like) the speakers on the sidelines.
"There is a lot that goes into that, and I don’t think you can just roll the football out there and do the same thing year in and year out. I was pleased last night. I thought the fans were outstanding. Look, we are at the point in the season where these games are important so any edge that we can get. I thought they gave us that, especially on the third downs."
The Saints' fans didn’t set the Guinness World Record for loudest indoor stadium crowd at a sporting event during their 31-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The highest volume registered was 122.6 decibels. The record is 126. Still, the Saints still got the intended effect from promoting a loud crowd. The Saints also handed out rally towels to every fan in attendance. And Payton personally invited the hip-hop group, the Ying-Yang twins, who recorded the Saints' 2009 anthem, "Stand Up and Get Crunk."
"It is just about giving thought to and creating an edge each week and not just accepting the status quo. You are either improving or you are not, and that just means being around passionate people that want to make the atmosphere great for the fans," said Payton, who used the NBA as an example of where you might not always find a unique crowd atmosphere in every city.
"You go see an NBA game and you can travel to eight different cities and it is the same game day format. You might even catch the same balancing gymnast at halftime if you hit it right," Payton joked. "I think having a unique game day experience is important, and I think it is something we look at to work on. ...I think we are in a league that is always looking for edges like that, competitive edges."