"My ears were still ringing from the three hours of deafening noise – I don't think the RCA Dome has ever been louder."
That was the commentary by sportswriter Justin Cohn of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette this week in regards to the roar created by over 57,000 fans who jammed into the RCA Dome and nearly rocked its roof off with their enthusiasm on Monday night.
Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said that at one point, "the noise level approached brain-splitting proportions."
Even fans in our own message board forum here at ColtPower said that Monday night marked one of the loudest displays of fan support they had ever experienced.
The frenzy in Indianapolis has indeed hit a feverish pitch as Colts fans have waited over 20 years for this kind of a run at the Lombardi Trophy after some near misses and seasons of potential unfulfilled. The Colts are playing a style of football that adapts to their opponent, coming up with the right moves and the right plays at the right time. And it's got the fans worked up in a way never seen before in Indianapolis.
Steelers receivers coach Bruce Arians, who spent plenty of time in the RCA Dome as the Colts' receivers coach knew it would be loud on Monday night and reportedly tried to warn some of his players about the impact the crowd would have. But there was no way he could prepare them for the disruption that Monday night's crowd caused. The Steelers were penalized five times for false starts, primarily because they couldn't hear their quarterback's snap count.
"Obviously it was a factor," Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger said. "When my center can't hear me, obviously you can't expect the tackles to hear me."
And it wasn't just the Steelers' inexperience with handling crowd noise that was the problem. The crowd's bring-down-the-house-on-them attitude and associated volume was simply overwhelming.
Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks had plenty of experience playing in a hostile dome during his college days at Florida. The crowd at the Georgia Dome was always in rare form when the Gators came to visit. But he said he hadn't ever experienced what he heard in the RCA Dome from Colts fans.
"I had an indication of what the noise would be like, but it is a different environment up here," Starks said after the game.
The noise was so amazing that it caused one reporter, Ed Werder of the Dallas Morning News, to remark on a Dallas radio talk show that the Colts were piping in noise to enhance the impact of the crowd. The Colts dismissed the allegation immediately.
"We don't need to pipe in noise," said head coach Tony Dungy. "I think that's an insult to our crowd. It has been loud there ever since I've been here. I don't know who would come up with that."
The rumor circulated quickly, getting plenty of air play on Wednesday afternoon on ESPN Radio's The Dan Patrick Show and on fan message boards on the web. It even made it's way down to Tennessee where Titans head coach Jeff Fisher dismissed the question when it was raised during a press conference.
"There are league observers there that are not going to allow that," he said. "There are rules and regulations and it is noise and it is legitimate.
"Their fans have caught on and they understand how big a part of the game they are, especially when they are on defense and (Dwight) Freeney is rushing. The tackles can't hear."
Werder downplayed his remarks in a response to the Indianapolis Star. According to their story, Werder told them that "the Colts play heavy bass noise through the RCA Dome public-address system to supplement the crowd noise, apparently in an attempt at disrupting the opposing quarterback's ability to communicate with the sideline and his teammates in the huddle."
Noise is permitted to be sent through any stadium's PA system until the quarterback breaks the huddle, so his point is...well, pointless.
Werder appeared to be surprised over the furor he caused with his comments, telling the Star, "I just thought it was an innocent conversation on the radio, although obviously, there isn't any such thing."
You would think that as a sportswriter, Werder would have learned that lesson long ago.
On Monday night, Colts fans learned more than ever that they can truly be a definitive and incredibly disruptive home-field edge for their beloved Indianapolis Colts. They experienced the power of the "12 Man" like never before. It's a responsibility they should take seriously and with heartfelt passion the rest of the way.
If they do, they can help make their dreams of a Super Bowl berth and victory come true.
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