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Sound support

After the Patriots booted a second-quarter field goal, this fan did his part in contributing to the decibel level with a two-fisted shout. After the Patriots booted a second-quarter field goal, this fan did his part in contributing to the decibel level with a two-fisted shout. (Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff)
By Stan Grossfeld
Globe Staff / October 12, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - If you think it isn’t loud at Gillette Stadium, listen up.

When Deion Branch hauled in a Tom Brady touchdown pass against the Jets Sunday, most of the 65,000 fans at Gillette Stadium rose as one, threw their arms skyward, and screamed.

A sound meter on the field near the end zone recorded 106.4 decibels. And that was on the open end of the stadium. Tests show that the enclosed side is 10 decibels higher, which would make the noise higher than the 115 decibels the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers dangerous for any length of time.

Even coach Bill Belichick noticed the extra fan enthusiasm for the game against the Jets.

“They were definitely into the game, no question about it,’’ he said.

The hooded master says there is a difference between the noise on the field and in the stands.

“To tell you the truth, when you’re down on the field, it’s like a constant roar,’’ said Belichick. “It goes up and it comes down a little bit, but it’s a constant roar.’’

Last month, in an audible that was deemed politically incorrect, Tom Brady called on Patriots fans to be “lubed’’ and loud for the home opener. Fans seem to have gotten the message. Safety James Ihedigbo credits Brady for getting the hometown fans pumped.

“Definitely,’’ said Ihedigbo. “I’m glad he called them out.’’

Ihedigbo, who played three years for the Jets, also did his part. He continually gestured for fans to rise up on big third-down plays, and the sound meter jumped 10 decibels.

“The fans are amazing,’’ he said. “I say we appreciate them. We need them every single game to be as loud or louder than they were.’’

Domed stadiums are traditionally louder than open-air venues. On Monday night at Ford Field in Detroit, the visiting Bears had nine false starts, prompting Lions coach Jim Schwartz to thank the city of Detroit. At Gillette, the Jets had one.

“When an offensive lineman jumps, it’s because of crowd noise,’’ says Ihedigbo. “We’ve got to increase that.’’

Ihedigbo said the fans at Gillette are louder than Jets fans at East Rutherford, N.J.

“They’re like the 12th man on the field,’’ he said.

Special teams captain Matthew Slater also credits Brady.

“I’m sure it didn’t hurt that he urged them on to support us, but it has been a little louder this year, I’ve noticed it,’’ said Slater.

Covering a Patriots game on the sideline with a sound meter is full of surprises.

Standing next to the End Zone Militia, who fire their muskets after every Patriots score, is as big a mistake as having Ellis Hobbs cover Plaxico Burress man-to-man in the Super Bowl. The musket produces a 113.3 decibel measurement, more than the average human pain threshold, according to a Purdue University study.

The loudest noise for a defensive play Sunday occurred when the Patriots challenged a Burress completion and the play was reversed. The crowd roared at 106 decibels - louder than a jackhammer.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s second touchdown of the game measured 104.8, and a sack of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez registered 104. Fans tried to pump up the underperforming Chad Ochocinco by greeting his two receptions with relatively loud ovations (98.6). That’s louder than a power mower.

The quietest sequence was the moment of silence observed for late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. It registered at 62.1, roughly the sound of conversation in an office.

When the Patriots flashed a message on the Jumbotron imploring fans to “Make Some Noise,’’ it came in at 94.4. They also post “Quiet Offense@Work,’’ when the Patriots have the ball, reminding fans that Brady likes to call audibles.

Patriots fans have been criticized for being spoiled by success, complacent, and more concerned with beating the horrendous Gillette Stadium traffic than supporting their team.

In January 2010, Vince Wilfork complained that it “felt like a road game’’ when the home team was booed early in a playoff loss to the Ravens.

There were times in the pre-Robert Kraft era when Patriots fans were reluctant to take their families to games because of vulgar, rowdy crowd behavior. But now some fans complain that the atmosphere in the stands is more like a night at the opera.

“We have the greatest football team in the NFL in the last 12 years,’’ said longtime Patriots fan Patrick Frechette. “When I stand up on third down, a lot of people in my section will be like, ‘Sit down.’ I don’t like that. I want to bring on the noise, support my team. I want to root on my team.’’

The Patriots say they are only responding to fan complaints; they, too, want fans up and cheering on big plays.Frechette also noted that the cushy corporate-level seats are half-empty if the weather is inclement.

“Look at the red seats in the fourth quarter,’’ he said. “They are going to empty out no matter what the score is.’’

On Sunday, only a few fans left during the two-minute warning with the Patriots up by 6 points and moving into field goal position.

Brady called out fans last year after a season-opening 38-24 win against the Bengals.

“When I looked up, half the stadium was gone when we were up 21 points in the early fourth quarter, which I wasn’t so happy about,’’ he said.

This year, he told them before the Chargers game “to start drinking early,’’ prompting Patriots spokesman Stacey James to say Brady meant to stay hydrated.

But Sunday’s game was a perfect storm of positive energy, summerlike weather, and a thirst for revenge after last year’s season-ending loss to the Jets.

In the pregame ceremony, the Patriots invited the entire Bruins team on the field (101.5 decibels). Nathan Horton squirted TD Garden “holy water’’ on the Patriots logo (98) and Zdeno Chara hoisted the Stanley Cup (98).

When Brady was introduced, he received a 98.4-decibel roar of approval, a close second to the 102.0 that greeted Bruins goalie Tim Thomas before the season opener at the Garden.

The Patriots cheerleaders received 85.1 decibels, proving that in New England an old-fashioned kick save is more valued than a well-fashioned kicking heel.

There were other surprises.

The longest and flashiest play of the game was Wes Welker’s 73-yard over-the-shoulder catch. It was good for only 13th place at 102.3 decibels, perhaps because it was the first play from scrimmage after the half.

But whatever you do, don’t ask the End Zone Militia about the noise. At least not after the Patriots score, which this season is early and often.

“What?’’ said musketeer Bill Gundling, edging closer and cupping his ear. “Huh?’’

Stan Grossfeld can be reached at grossfeld@globe.com.

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