A crowd of 63,000+ loud, passionate and towel-waving fans packed the stadium last week during the Vikings game. The fans’ energy created an environment that is best described as frenzied while the opponent’s offense was on the field and electric while the home team’s offense was at work.
This Sunday, when the Vikings play the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game, the atmosphere will be quite similar. Except this time the Vikings will be the opponents instead of being the home team and the beneficiaries of that frenzied environment.
Fans at Mall of America Field have built a reputation for being some of the loudest in the NFL. But they are rivaled by fans at the Louisiana Superdome, who’ve gained a similar reputation and will no doubt be looking to validate it on Sunday.
While the Vikings must deal with the disadvantage to playing on the road in a hostile environment, they do have the advantage of a veteran QB who has seen just about anything a defense – and crowd – can throw at him. Brett Favre has been to this point in the season before and he’s played the game in friendly and unfriendly environments.
“I try to keep not only myself but the other guys calm and relaxed,” Favre said of his role as a leader in Sunday’s game. “ It’s OK to be excited, but especially in an environment like we’re going to face and like Tony (Romo) faced coming here last week, to be able to focus – and I’ve played them at home, and I’ve played them away – these games, they’re tough anyway, but they’re really tough on the road, because of the noise.
Another area of focus for the Vikings will be communication. The loud noise makes it difficult for the opposing team to communicate, whether it’s coach-to-player or player-to-player or sideline-to-player.
“It’s always the communication,” Childress, who has also been in a situation such as this in the past, said. “You want to be able to communicate seamlessly.
“I’ve been in an NFC Championship (with Philadelphia) at the Edward Jones Dome, where I had to hand signal the last three plays to Donovan McNabb in a game where I couldn’t hear Andy Reid talking in my ear. Donovan couldn’t hear me. Communication; that’s the significant part of the challenge.”
In order to practice communicating in an environment that makes it hard to communicate, the Vikings have used various methods, including piping in crowd noise during practice to simulate the noise.
“Not only are you playing the Saints, but you’re playing the fans, and all of those things work against you,” Favre said. “I’ll emphasize that during the week. We’ll practice as much like a game as possible with those elements, but there’s no substitute for the game itself. So, really, what I will try to do is just keep it relaxed.”
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 57 Comments »