The Bears are facing the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday in divisional round playoff action, in part, because of the raucous crowd at Qwest Field. The New Orleans Saints’ poor tackling and coverage skills on defense were the major contribution, of course, but it helped that the Seahawks’ home crowd was so noisy that it caused three Saints false start penalties. In fact, the Seahawks at home lead the league in opponents false starts in the last half decade thanks to what the franchise has termed, “The 12th Man.”
Seattle is proud of its tradition and even flies a flag with the No. 12 on it for each home game. Inside the stadium, fans have signs that keep a running total of false starts throughout the season. They take pride in being a factor in games.
Here in Chicago, the Bears fans are an honorary member of the organization as well. While certainly not as loud — Qwest Field holds a more-than-10,000 capacity advantage (72,000-61,500) over Soldier Field — the Bears fan base is a loyal and hardcore contingent of dedicated fans. The organization pays tribute to them by dubbing them “The Fourth Phase,” with offense, defense, and special teams being the other three “phases.” The team honors the fans with a flag as well, which is brought onto the field by a Bears player and passed along to a randomly selected fan. Despite being the smallest venue in the NFL, Soldier Field can offer the Bears a significant advantage as long as the fans aren’t sitting on their hands at crucial moments in the game.
The Seahawks offense isn’t immune to crowd noise. Seattle fans are intelligent enough to know to silence themselves when the offense comes on to the field. So, I’d love to see The Fourth Phase give them a dose of their own medicine on Sunday.
Call it a plea if you will, but I implore all those fans who are attending the game on Sunday to be loud and proud when the Bears defense is on the field and not to give up hope until the last second ticks off the clock. Even if the Bears are down two touchdowns (which I don’t think anybody is expecting at all), The Fourth Phase needs to never give up hope and make its voice heard.
Because even if the crowd noise doesn’t faze the Seahawks offense or cause any false starts, the Bears defense certainly can feed off that excitement and the players’ adrenaline can push them over the edge to make critical plays.