Poise in the Noise.
It's a little saying Tom Coughlin likes to use when the Giants head into a dome like Indianapolis or Houston, or a generally noisy venue like Dallas.
But it will never come into more play than this week in Seattle, where the crowd makes Qwest Field seem more like a busy runway at Kennedy Airport than a football stadium.
To boot, the Giants will no doubt have a backup center in Adam Koets in the lineup as the 4-3 Seahawks' 12th Man does its thing. Though Shaun O'Hara is conceding nothing yet to his right Lisfranc injury, it's highly unlikely the 33-year-old starter will make it back before the expected two-to-four-week recovery period, if even then. So Koets, in his first trip ever to the Pacific Northwest as a professional, is getting ready to keep a line that has produced three 100-yard rushing efforts in four games running smoothly.
It won't be easy, though. It never is in Seattle. Chris Snee still remembers the 2005 matchup there, during which the crowd goaded and flustered the Giants offense into 11 false start penalties while beating Tom Coughlin's group 24-21 in overtime.
"We're all experienced guys, but that doesn't mean it isn't difficult," Snee said. "The domes are always loud, but Seattle's a really loud place. They have a great fan base. If they get some success, the fans get behind them."
They've been behind the 4-3 Seahawks this year. With a plus-8 takeaway differential at home, the Seahawks have beaten all three visiting opponents handily. They've averaged more than 26 points on offense and given up only a 12-point average on defense. Add to that the crowd noise, which comes part and parcel with the momentum-changing turnovers, and a Giants history in Seattle in which they have gone 0-5 up there since their last win in 1981, and Sunday stacks up as a tough game.
Having Koets in there may not help, since he has yet to be exposed to such noise levels. But he's heard about them from his teammates who peopled that 2005 line.
"I've heard stories," the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Koets said. "When I first got here, I heard about that game. You always hear about playing at Seattle. I'm just looking forward to experiencing it."
Quarterback Eli Manning said noise should be the least of the Giants' worries. Rain – it can pour torrentially in Seattle – is in the forecast for Sunday. So wet footballs may be more of a concern than crowd noise.
"Sometimes it freaks you out, but there's no sense stressing it," Manning said. "Just as long as the center hears me, we'll be fine."
That's exactly the point, though. During the 2005 mess, the crowd grew so loud that the center couldn't hear the quarterback, the tackles couldn't communicate with the guards, and the wide receivers were hopelessly lost on the perimeter of the offense. The silent count is an obvious solution. But even at that, it depends on everyone having the count down. Keeping one's head while all around them are screaming is paramount.
"We know it's going to be crazy," left tackle David Diehl said. "Getting the crowd out of the game is one of the keys."
Staying poised is the other. Poise in the noise, Coughlin says.
"I don't think there's any more concern than there normally would be," said Coughlin. "Poise in the noise is a big factor."
"Yeah," said Snee. "I've heard that before. Like 50 times. He said that the last time we were in Seattle, too (a 42-30 loss in 2006). We didn't do too good a job with it the last time. Maybe we can do a better job this time."