FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Take the decibel level of a NASCAR race. Combine it with the sound at a heavy metal concert.
That’s what CenturyLink Field can sound like for a Seahawks game.
And that’s what the New York Jets are preparing for on Sunday.
So coach Rex Ryan had the speakers turned up to max volume and a staffer pumped in music — anything from West Side Connection’s “Gangsta Nation” to “Get Right” by Jennifer Lopez — to create the loudest environment possible during practice.
That practice was held indoors Wednesday because of a snowstorm, but made sense under any weather conditions because it’s the closest way to simulate what the Jets will face in Seattle; Ryan calls it “a hostile environment” where “the fans are over the top.”
He meant it as a compliment.
“Notoriously, this is a tough place to play,” Ryan said. “When you think of an indoor-type atmosphere, it’s kind of like the noise level that you get there, even though it’s an outdoor stadium. But that doesn’t make a difference.”
Ryan mentioned the high number of false starts by visiting offenses at Seattle as a tangible example of the Seahawks’ home-field advantage. The Giants once had 11 of them, turning coach Tom Coughlin’s face more crimson than usual.
The NFL once sent out a memo about complaints of artificial sound being added to amplify crowd noise at the Seahawks’ stadium — something that seems ludicrous considering the pitch at which the fans shout.
Most memorable on the sound meter, perhaps, was Marshawn Lynch’s stunning 67-yard TD run in the 2010 wild-card playoff game on which he broke a half-dozen Saints tackles. The cheering on that play registered as a minor tremor on local seismic equipment.
“It’s awesome. We definitely use it to our advantage,” said former Jets running back-kick returner Leon Washington, now a Seahawk. “We’ve led the league the last five years in false starts on the opposing team. The energy the fans bring to the stadium is so loud.
“When I’m about to do a kickoff return, I can feel the energy the fans are giving me. It’s awesome playing here. We know when opponents come here to play us it’s going to be a tough task for them to get a win. We definitely use it to our advantage.”
Indeed, the Seahawks (5-4) are 4-0 at home this year, albeit one victory was that infamous 14-12 win over Green Bay that marked the end of the replacement officials in Week 3. They are in the midst of the NFC wild-card chase, although catching San Francisco (6-2) in the AFC West might be too much of a chore.
New York is 3-5 and desperate for a victory to get back into the AFC race.
Even opposing defensive players notice the difficulty of playing in Seattle. Although the crowd quiets down when the Seahawks have the ball, it’s not exactly like a library. And when the defenders are trying to meet on the sideline while their offense has the ball, well, it can be fruitless.
Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie was happy that Ryan had music blaring inside the practice facility, calling it “very helpful” to get acclimated.
“In a place that loud,” he said, “communication has to be good, verbal and non-verbal.”
Facing the biggest challenge in that area will be quarterback Mark Sanchez, his blockers and receivers. It’s hard being on the same page when the book is shaking from reverberating noise.
Sanchez has never played at Seattle — the Jets lost 13-3 in their only visit to CenturyLink Field — but has been forewarned by teammates who have, as well as friends around the league. That he will be facing his college coach at Southern California, Pete Carroll, only adds more spice to the matchup.
“It’s the loudest stadium in the league,” tight end Dustin Keller said. “Just a tough place to play.”