EARTH CITY, Mo. -- CenturyLink Field in Seattle has long been known for being one of the loudest venues in sports. Earlier this year, Seahawks fans helped make it official by setting the Guinness Book of World Records' mark for loudest crowd. Twice.
The raucous atmosphere is nothing new to the St. Louis Rams who play in Seattle every season but as the youngest team in the league for the second consecutive year, the noise figures to again provide a difficult challenge.
Despite that reputation, Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said the Rams haven't added any new tweaks to practice this week to prepare for the noise.
“I think there’s no question in my mind it’s the loudest stadium in the league," Schottenheimer said. "There’s not much you can do. You’ve got to talk about maintaining your poise, and again it comes down to our guys just executing. It’s going to be loud and they’re going to have a hard time hearing, but that’s part of the deal and we simulate that the best we can. But we don’t put too much stock into it. We know it’s going to be loud, and that’s not going to surprise anybody when the 12th man, or whatever they do, comes out there and it gets real loud.”
Unlike many teams around the league, the Rams don't pump noise into their practices or do anything outside of their normal practice routine for road games. There's no definitive proof that adding noise to practices helps cope with it on game day but it's certainly something the Rams could have trouble with on Sunday.
Center Tim Barnes is making just his fourth career start and second on the road. Making adjustments and calls against Seattle's multiple defensive looks is difficult enough. Add in the noise which makes communication that much more difficult and the Rams could find themselves struggling to get snaps off or pick up calls at the line of scrimmage.
The Rams had zero offensive penalties in either of their past two games but 17 of their 29 offensive penalties for the season have come on the road. Seattle prides itself on creating false starts through noise and has benefited from 22 offensive penalties from opponents in its first seven home games.
Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens is well aware of the challenge that awaits.
"They’re a smart fan base," Clemens said. "They understand when to get loud. If I’m not mistaken, I think that in designing that stadium acoustically they also understood how to keep the noise down. It’s a great environment. It’s tough to play in. We’ll have to be dialed in because a lot of the communication that we would typically be able to do is going to be tough in the noise. We’re a veteran group, especially in the offensive line. So, an opportunity for us to go up and again, hopefully get a win in a very good football environment.”
The Rams have plenty to overcome to reach that victory in the first place. They can't afford to make it harder on themselves by allowing Seattle's 12th man to have an impact as well.