After causing communication breakdowns not just for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts offense, but for their own defense, Buffalo Bills fans are doubling down on the noise. A contingent of fans even started a "GoFundMe" page to raise $8,000 to bring the Guinness Book of World Records to Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, in anticipation of a record-high decibel level. The idea sounds great to head coach Rex Ryan.
"I'm expecting it to be extremely loud," he said. "We'll see what happens, but if last week was any indication, we don't even need to sell seats because our guys stand the whole time anyway. I'm looking back, and I'm thinking, 'Golly, take a little breather if you want.' Our fans are into it. I have a feeling they're going to be into this one."
But the uproar from the 73-thousand fans presents a unique challenge to Ryan and his defense. While the crowd noise disrupts the rhythm of Luck and potentially Tom Brady, nobody on defense can hear any better than the opposing quarterback. Ryan has subjected his team to artificial crowd noise during practices this week to help get them ready, but even that fails to completely mimic the volume of the raucous Bills faithful.
"It helps," middle linebacker Preston Brown said. "We have to work on our hand signals, so even if we can hear [a little bit in practice], we have to. . .get those right."
Potential world record decibel levels aside, defensive communication is an important focus this week considering the opponent. Just like Luck and the Colts offense, Brady and the Patriots utilize heavy pre-snap adjustments. The Bills defense did contain Luck, but Brown thinks they could have done even better.
"We saw in the first game, [sometimes] we just let guys run free. We can't let that happen because [Brady] is going to find open guys," he said. "So we have to make sure we're all on the same page and have everybody covered up."
It's up to Brown, who receives the calls from the sideline, to lead the defense through the ruckus. While he noted teammates Nigel Bradham and Corey Graham as two who help him communicate the play call to the entire defense, he knows he's the guy who has to get the call in properly.
Brown trusts himself, and he trusts his teammates, which beyond hand signals, is the biggest key to sustaining communication. They all trust each other on the field, and even if they cannot hear one another, they know they will do the work this week to be ready when the crowd noise impacts the game. For Buffalo's defense the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
"We did have communication issues, but keep it coming," said Bradham. "It's a bigger problem for them."
"It's a great positive for us because they can't hear. They can't be on their count. They can't do as many checks as they want to do," Brown said. "And we get those offensive linemen nervous. That's the big thing. They jump because they can't hear. They know that we have the best defensive line in the world, so they have to be ready to go."
Safety Aaron Williams delivered a simple message on the subject. The team will do the necessary work to be able to communicate on Sunday, so the fans should continue to do what they do best.
"We want the fans to be as loud as possible," he said. "It may seem like it's hurting us a little bit, but we'll adjust. We want those fans to be really into the game."