PaulieP (Scottsdale): Colts first time here, do you believe the allegations about pumping in crowd noise? Have you heard the "skip"?Jeremy Green: (11:10 AM ET ) I don't doubt it. The Vikings used to do it in the 90's when they had very good foootball teams.
Jeremy Green is the son of former Vikings coach Dennis Green. In 2007, after the Colts' CD of crowd noise audibly skipped during a Pats game, the younger Green admitted in an ESPN chat that the Vikings used fake crowd noise, too. Both teams play in domed stadiums, play admittedly loud music, and are famous for unfailingly-loud crowds—but both teams staunchly deny they artificially boost the crowd noise.
CBS ultimately took the fall for the Colts incident, claiming their audio may have fed back somehow; the NFL scrubbed all recordings of the event from the Internet. Green later said it was just, like, his opinion man—one informed only by half his lifetime spent going to Vikings games during his father’s tenure as head coach. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said at the time:
The initial comments from Jeremy Green sure don't read like opinion, and Green's relationship with the head coach at the time puts him in a great situation to know the facts.
The mere fact that Green would try to backpedal in such lame fashion tells us all we need to know.
Then again, Green is now doing hard time for possession of drugs and child pornography, so his character isn’t unimpeachable.
The Lions offensive line had kept Matthew Stafford clean through the first two weeks, allowing zero sacks by either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Kansas City Chiefs. The Bucs and Chiefs have combined for nine sacks across the other four games they’ve played, yet neither bagged Stafford once. Through two weeks, the Lions had the No. 1 Pro Football Focus-graded pass-blocking line in football.
Yet, the line was in disarray against Minnesota: Jeff Backus had one of the worst games of his career, and earned the worst PFF grade (–7.6) they’ve ever assigned him. Backus was flagged for four penalties, including consecutive false starts on a critical fourth-quarter drive. He also got the blame for two sacks and three QB pressures.
Gosder Cherilus was benched after allowing a sack and a pressure in just the first six snaps. Replacement Corey Hilliard didn’t fare much better: he allowed a sack, two hits, and a pressure. Rob Sims also allowed a sack and three pressures; his –4.9 PFF grade was his second-worst-ever (besides the 2008 season opener, when he played through a torn pectoral muscle). Oddly, the two whipping boys of the Lions line—Dom Raiola and Stephen Peterman—had the days’ best grades at –1.1 and +1.1, respectively. Raiola’s pass blocking grade by itself was positive (+0.3)
What happened here? Is Jared Allen that much better than Tamba Hali? Is Kevin Williams that much better than Gerald McCoy? Or might it have something to do with the “crowd” being so loud that Matthew Stafford had both hands pressed over both earholes in the second quarter, trying desperately to hear the radio embedded in his helmet?
Make no mistake: crowd noise is, will, should be a factor in NFL games. During the Kansas City game, when we Lions fans cheered loud enough to draw a timeout or a false start, it was a great feeling knowing we had given our team an advantage. Seahawks fans strongly believe they are “The 12th Man.”
That’s why the Lions veteran line, coached by an experienced coordinator like Scott Linehan, should have been better prepared to deal with the notorious Mall of America noise. The Lions didn’t use max protect against Minnesota’s pass rush, preferring to throw it over the Vikings heads.
Unfortunately, Lions receivers didn’t get open consistently enough to make that approach effective. Nate Burleson, who usually thrives in space underneath, was nearly invisible. It wasn't until Matthew Stafford leaned on Brandon Pettigrew and Titus Young in the second half that the Lions started moving the chains.
Trusting the offensive line to slow Jared Allen and company long enough for Stafford to make the Vikings pay was a gamble. Noise or no, the line clearly didn’t respond the way Lions coaches had hoped. After the game, head coach Jim Schwartz said, “We need to be more effective at [right tackle]. I will just leave it at that.” On Backus, Schwartz’s opinion was similar: “He gets a lot of attention because he's a left tackle. Just in general terms, Jeff can play better and he will play better.”
Ultimately, pointing fingers at Minnesota’s illegal advantage—real or perceived—is folly. Good teams overcome disadvantages like that; they persevere and perforam. No matter what you think of the Vikings’ tactics, Jeff Backus and the offensive line was good enough to pass what might be their toughest test all year: Jared Allen and the Vikings line in one of the toughest road environments in football.