FOXBOROUGH — It has been almost four years since the Patriots last played the Seahawks in Seattle, and since then, the reputation of CenturyLink Field and its fan-generated atmosphere on game day have only grown stronger. It’s loud, and it’s a tough place to play.
The last time these teams met in the Pacific Northwest, in 2008, the Patriots beat the Seahawks, 24-21. It’s the only time the Patriots have played in Seattle’s current home, which was then called Qwest Field (they were 3-2 at the old Kingdome, last playing there in 1993).
Because of the long trip, the Patriots are planning on flying out Friday. They have a good idea what to expect come Sunday.
“I think it might be the loudest stadium that we’ve been in, and we’re in a lot of loud ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “The crowd is totally into it. They do a great job of being loud, causing false start penalties and things like that on the offense. It’s a huge home-field advantage for them.”
It has been this year. The Seahawks are 2-0 at home, beating the Cowboys (27-7), then the Packers (14-12) in controversial fashion on “Monday Night Football,” a finish that some think had as much to do with the regular officials coming back and replacing the replacements as anything else. But since the start of the 2009 season, Seattle is just 16-11 at home, including one playoff victory.
“I’ve had an opportunity to be there three or four times, and it never disappoints in terms of how loud and how vocal they’re going to be,” said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “It’s a great environment to play in, and certainly for us on offense, it will be important to do a good job of communicating and paying attention to all of the little details.
“They make it difficult, but I think that the best way for us to do that is to practice with the noise here and do the best we can here.”
The Patriots are 2-1 on the road, beating Tennessee and Buffalo, and losing at Baltimore, another stadium known for its loud crowds.
No team in the NFL except for the Bears (17) has forced more turnovers than the Patriots, who have recovered a league-best eight fumbles and added six interceptions. The Falcons also have 14 takeaways, and are tied with the Patriots for the league lead in turnover differential, at plus-10.
The Patriots forced the Bills into six turnovers, and recovered three fumbles against the Broncos. While pleased with those numbers, no doubt, Belichick rarely looks back when it comes to his team, at least publicly. What has happened in the first five games might have no bearing on the sixth.
“It doesn’t really matter,” said Belichick. “It’s Seattle. It’s what happens this week. Hopefully we can be on the plus side of the turnovers against Seattle, but that’s hard to do because they do an excellent job of taking it away and they do a great job of protecting it.”
The Seahawks, actually, are minus-1 in turnover margin, with eight giveaways and seven takeaways.
One week after facing one of the best pocket quarterbacks in league history in Peyton Manning, the Patriots defense will get its first look this week at rookie Russell Wilson, who is capable of making plays with his feet or his arm. Manning, unless the protection breaks down, prefers to stay back and pick the pass coverage apart. Wilson isn’t shy about tucking the ball away and taking off. “It certainly is a different transition for us, but that’s what we do every week,” said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. “We’re talking about a guy in Russell Wilson that’s very athletic, very fast, can really do a great job of moving around and getting the ball downfield. It presents a different challenge for us, but an extremely difficult one.”
Total it up
More numbers for the stat-hungry: The Patriots lead the league in total offense, averaging 439.4 yards per game, 10 yards better than the Giants. They’re No. 22 in total defense, allowing 373.8 . . . The Patriots are 33-6 in October since the 2003 season, tops in the NFL. Over that span, they’re 19-1 at home, 14-5 away . . . Tom Brady hasn’t faced the Seahawks in Seattle, one of just three NFL teams he’s never met in an away game (San Francisco and Tampa Bay are the others, not counting the 2009 game against the Buccaneers in London); he was injured and missed the Seattle trip in 2008.