The reviews are in from the players from the debut game at U.S. Bank Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings – or at least a game that counts, and few games could count more than putting down the Green Bay Packers.
The quote that got the most national attention was from guard Alex Boone, who used some spicy language to remind the crowd that they should shut up when the offense has the ball because the noise level was viewed as being responsible for a couple of false starts and some communication issues.
But, by and large, the response from the players was extremely positive.
Texas A&M and the Seattle Seahawks may argue ownership of the 12th Man, but The Bank customers showed up with their rowdy friends and made life miserable for the Packers.
“It was awesome,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “That’s one of the best atmospheres I’ve probably ever played in. A lot of people talk about Seattle being loud, but (Sunday) night this building was rocking. Our fans were tremendous. I think a lot of credit goes to them. They were having a hard time with communication. I think there were times we were having a hard time communicating because it was so loud in there. It’s fun when you get to play in atmospheres like that. It’s not an every-week thing. You don’t get to play in front of crowds like that all the time so when you do, it’s really special.”
Veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn hadn’t experienced indoor football in Minnesota other than a 2013 game when he was with the Panthers in the Metrodome. But he was impressed with how the noise reverberated through the building and the level of crazy was dialed up to 11.
“It was loud, man, it was loud,” Munnerlyn said. “Fans showed up to open up this stadium, Sunday Night Football, you can’t ask for anything else. To get the win, that’s the big thing, to get the win against your rival team, it was awesome.”
Wide receiver Adam Thielen was no stranger to Vikings fans in the Metrodome. He was one of them growing up.
Despite that experience, he was impressed with the sustained noise level from the time the Vikings were still in their locker room until the time they were heading back to the locker room with a key win in hand.
“From pregame warmups to the end of the game, it was crazy in here,” Thielen said. “You can feel that the energy was great and it brought the energy out of us as players, and the defense fed off of it. It definitely helps us win games.”
While the noise may have bothered Boone on occasion, the scoreboard operators provided a giant reminder to the crowd saying in 20-foot letters, “QUIET! Offense At Work.”
For the most part, the fans were respectful of the offense, which was appreciated by game MVP Stefon Diggs.
“It was nice, but we didn’t get too much,” Diggs said. “The defense is going to get it more than us. It was nice to see the fans come out and support and just show that maximum effort that we play with. They bring it to the table, too.”
Defensive end Tom Johnson played three years in the Superdome, which is known for its Bourbon-filled loyalists who can make the roof shake. His time with the Vikings had seen sound evaporate over the West Bank area of the U of M campus.
Say what you want to about Who 'Dat Nation. Johnson is familiar with them and they’ve got nothing on Vikings fans.
“We’ve got the best fans in the league,” Johnson said. “They came out excited, enthused and they definitely came and gave us an extra boost at times when we needed it. You could see that it frustrated (the Packers), seeing the offense that they had, calls that they couldn’t get in that they were trying to get in and communicate. It was difficult for them.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr was experiencing a ramped-up indoor Vikings crowd for the first time – his first two seasons were played at TCF Bank Stadium.
Asked if he saw the Vikings as the ultimate NFL fans by an apologist reporter on a fishing expedition, Barr gave the sound byte that was being sought out.
“I think we have it,” Barr said. “We have some of the smartest fans in the league. They understand situations in the game and they showed it tonight.”
At some point, crowd noise of that volume will become the norm. Rookies will have to get schooled to it, but veterans will know what to expect and when to expect it.
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But, not everybody had goosebumps. Linebacker Eric Kendricks was nonplussed about the situation because he drowns out crowd noise. It’s all about the game and he doesn’t care where it’s played.
“For myself personally, it doesn’t matter,” Kendricks said. “I could play on a dirt field in the back. But, it’s loud in there, it’s real loud, so I imagine for their offense it’s pretty bad.”
Kendricks aside and Boone understood, the reviews were similar to Broadway critics seeing Spamalot for the first time. Raves followed. Now if we can get fueled-up Vikings fans to learn how to clap in unison when the “Skol Chant” speeds up (and do it when the visiting team is coming out of the locker room instead of booing), the home-field advantage at The Bank will be even more ominous and impressive.