Proud ... and loud

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

It smacked of a publicity stunt when they made the move, but the Seattle Seahawks are the only NFL team to have retired a number for someone other than a player.

In 1984, the team retired No. 12 in honour of its fans -- otherwise known as the 12th man -- who used to rattle the walls of the old Kingdome.

The advantage created by the crazies of the Pacific Northwest has been back this season, no more so than this past Sunday when the Seahawks defeated the New York Giants 24-21 at Qwest Field.

With an at-times confused Eli Manning trying to call plays, the crowd played a big role as the Giants were flagged for 11 false-start penalties.

"(Home-field advantage) was never more evident than in that game, with all the penalties that came directly because of crowd noise and the enthusiasm of our fans," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said.

The noise was so loud in the early days of the franchise that the NFL passed a law to help silence it. The league invoked a rule that would penalize home teams if their fans were so loud that opposing quarterbacks could not be heard when calling signals.

Though the rule still exists, Holmgren said flags are rarely thrown for it because it tends to only further rile the home crowd. And referees tend to look the other way when quarterbacks complain.

With 20 wins in their past 23 home games the Seahawks (9-2) are in the driver's seat for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

"Home field has always been very important to me," Holmgren said. "I stressed it in Green Bay and we had a great record at Lambeau.

"We're starting a great record here and it has a lot to do with the fans."

MORE NOISE

The Indianapolis Colts have laughed off accusations following Monday night's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers that the team was artificially amping up the volume in the RCA Dome. Reports out of Pittsburgh suggested that the Colts set up microphones on the floor of the stadium to capture the noise and pump it back through their public address system.

The Colts vehemently denied the charges saying the din in their dome hardly needs a boost.

"Our fans have been great," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We don't need to pipe in noise. I think that's an insult to our crowd. It has been loud ever since I've been here. I don't know who would come up with that."

LEAST OF THE EAST

As painful as their last visit to the playoffs ended, the Buffalo Bills and their fans surely didn't think it would take this long to make a return visit to the post-season.

It's coming up on six years since the game, which will forever be remembered as the Music City Miracle was played at Nashville's Adelphia Coliseum.

Since that loss to the Tennessee Titans on a heartbreaking touchdown kickoff return by Kevin Dyson in the dying seconds, the Bills have gone through a handful of starting QBs, two head coaches and only one season with a winning record -- last year's 9-7 effort that left them just short of the playoffs.

Since their most recent playoff appearance, Buffalo has been far and away the worst team in the AFC East with a record of 38-53 from the start of the 2000 season. The Patriots have the best mark at 59-32 (plus three Super Bowl victories) followed by the Dolphins (49-42) and the Jets (46-45).

Though the Bills (4-7) are still mathematically alive this year, thanks mostly to the poor play of the Patriots (6-5), they could kiss the playoffs goodbye with a loss to the Dolphins tomorrow in Miami.


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