Can You Hear Me? Not in St. Louis

I was among the 66,093 spectators that watched the Rams come back to beat the Chargers 28-24. I will be the first to admit, the fans at the game got to me. I could scarcely hear myself think. Any notes I made during the game were a mess when I looked at them later that night in silence.

The Chargers were bothered by the fans as much as I, as they committed nine penalties for either false starts, delay of games or holdings. They had a season-high 12 penalties for 82 yards. In eight of the Chargers 10 offensive possessions they were flagged for either a false start or holding.

There is no way to justify the three penalties in a row the Chargers took on their first drive of the day. First Jason Ball got penalized for sliding the ball before hiking it; then Ed Ellis committed two penalties in a row. What was once a third and one became a third and sixteen in but a few seconds. The contributing factor, crowd noise.

I personally have never heard anything so deafening in my life. I have been to heavy metal concerts, heard planes land and this crowd was in it from start to finish with the same rambunctious attitude.

"That crowd was great, they really were," RB LaDainian Tomlinson said. "They obviously disrupted a lot of things we wanted to do. They were a real factor."

Said coach Marty Schottenheimer: "Their crowd deserves a significant portion of this success. I've never been in an arena that had the kind of noise that they had out there today. It's a tribute to their fans; it was very difficult."

Marty Schottenheimer saying the crowd was loudest he has ever heard? That is truly high praise, considering he coached in Arrowhead for 10 years.

"It was very difficult. We didn't manage it very well, but that was the one problem," added Schottenheimer.

"It was so loud," Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards said, "You could see the noise."

Added Rams coach Mike Martz: "It was like the Super Bowl or the NFC championship. They were crazy out there. It made a significant difference with the Chargers in terms of just trying to run their offense and get out of the huddle and get a play called. It was significant, and it happened at the end of the game, too. We appreciate that."

"That last drive, it was ridiculous," said offensive guard Bob Hallen. "I don't know if I've ever heard a stadium get that loud. I know Drew said he couldn't hear calls in his helmet, so he had to keep running over to the sideline."

The crowd was what a true 12th man is supposed to be. They were disruptive and the Chargers were ill-prepared to defend against it.

On the Chargers second drive Drew Brees was unaware of the play clock and subsequently flagged for a delay of game penalty forcing a third and two situation from the St 17 into a third and seven. Brees would throw an incomplete pass to Conway on the next play and the Chargers settled for a Steve Christie field goal.

On the Chargers fifth possession running back LaDainian Tomlinson was flagged for moving too soon. It would eventually end the drive as the Chargers ended up having to punt on fourth and five, or the same five yards Tomlinson gave away.

There were other factors that contributed to the loss, but my game ball goes to the Rams faithful. I could not shrink far enough into my seat when the game ended and my Charger uniform was the lone one to be seen in a crowd of 66,093.

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