“Because it felt like the stadium was literally rocking,” said Amanda Tucker, who sat in the stands with the wife of guard Kevin Zeitler. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the stadium like that.”
When the Ravens host the first AFC Championship Game (3 p.m. ET, CBS) in their 28-year history Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will have to contend with the 12th man at M&T Bank Stadium, and that means about 120 decibels — which was the measured noise level on Saturday and is comparable to a jet plane taking off.
The Ravens believe their crowd contributed to seven penalties by the Texans: five false starts, one delay of game and one encroachment.
Asked if the fans were louder in the postseason, Baltimore wide receiver Zay Flowers said, “Yes, you couldn’t tell? Houston noticed it. We’ve got the best fans in the country. ‘The Bank’ is hard to come into because the fans got grit.”
The Chiefs are one of the most disciplined teams in terms of pre-snap penalties. Kansas City has been flagged five times for false starts on the road — third-fewest in the league.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes knows it will be a different test playing at the Ravens. On the “ManningCast” in November, Mahomes said there were only two stadiums that forced him to use silent counts: M&T Bank Stadium and Seattle’s Lumen Field.
“It was so loud in those stadiums that the tackles couldn’t hear me,” Mahomes said.
After the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Mahomes said, “That stadium is going to be rocking. We’re excited for the challenge.”
Mahomes isn’t the only quarterback who’s had problems with the noise from Ravens fans. This season, opponents had more false starts (19) and delay of game penalties (nine) at M&T Bank Stadium (regular season and playoffs) than anywhere else in the NFL.
“At this level, you can take for granted sometimes the fans and the atmosphere. It is not the same around the league,” said Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton. “Coming from the south, coming from the SEC atmosphere, you kind of get used to that. The Ravens atmosphere is no different from that.”
The expectation is the noise level will get ratcheted up even more Sunday. This is the first AFC Championship Game in Baltimore in 53 years. The last time it was held in this city was 53 years ago, when the Baltimore Colts hosted the Oakland Raiders.
Earlier this week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh instructed fans as if they were his players, telling them to get a good meal and good night’s rest in order to be ready for the game.
“I feel like [the crowd noise] has been turned up the whole season,” Hamilton said. “It is going to be even louder, even more chaotic on Sunday. I am excited to see it.”