The Noise Is Back In Town

There was a time when coming to Seattle was an offense’s worst nightmare. The fans would legitimately attempt to rupture your eardrums; hearing the snap count would be a memory both quaint and faint. Defensive ends — the Seahawks always had elite talent across the D-line — would lick their chops, and maybe yours too, at the prospect of gaining a half-second jump. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees would be transformed, come game time, into Christian Ponders, flattened in turn by a malicious Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril. Sometimes, they were sat on by Red Bryant, which seems like a new level of uncomfortable.

In between bouts of greatness, Colin Kaepernick would throw the ball to any Seahawk he could find open downfield. There’s a reason people called Richard Sherman his favorite receiver. All good jokes have a kernel of truth, right, or they’re not any good.

Big men became small men at the CLink. The Seahawks won at home, and won often, and won in will-breaking fashion. Or on the last play, to mix things up and keep it “interesting.” Opposing fans began to circle visits to Seattle as auto-losses. Analysts declared it the hardest place to play football. The Guinness Book of World Records certified a noise record here.

It was the best place to be a fan: the team steamrolled visitors, and with a ticket, you could actively participate in beatdowns. Players danced during timeouts and raised their hands to request EVEN MORE DECIBELS, and wouldn’t you know it? The sound of a jet engine in your face would begin to rev, and rev again, and then again again, for hours, unrelenting and unforgiving.

But then, for a while, the place lost some of its mystique. Fans grew accustomed to winning; headsets and silent counts mitigated the noise; Hall of Fame playmaking defenders started dropping or packing up.

The Seahawks went 4-4 in 2017 at home. Curious coaching and roster decisions brought occasional boos down from the rafters at ends of halves, ends of games. False starts disappeared, delays of game became rarer and rarer. Coaches figured out how to save their timeouts. The league adjusted, like it always does.

Somehow, after a(nother) close loss to the Chargers earlier this year, the Seahawks wrapped up an eight-game home stretch with six losses. They really went 2-6 over the equivalent of one home season’s worth.

That shouldn’t have been possible.

Thankfully, it was also the nadir. A comeback against the Packers, a defensive clinic against the Vikings, and a 43-16 Bobby-Wagner-fueled laugher over the 49ers reset the course, re-invigorated the crowd, and set the stage for a win Sunday Night over the Chiefs, a win that might just signal the return of the CLink as a factor in victory or defeat.

As the Chiefs were being deposed in Seattle, the CLink was louder than at any point during 2017. Trust me. I’ve been there for 14 seasons now, almost every week. It was a playoff atmosphere. It was like the good old days.

It was the good new days.

Which is bad news for everyone not wearing blue or action green. And good news for everyone who was wondering if the Seattle Seahawks really are on the upswing again. Because if they are, they’ll need the home-cookin’ of 70,000 crazy people to complete the ascent to the mountaintop again.

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