Gillette Stadium has never been considered a loud stadium. The New England Patriots actually have one of the 10 worst homefield advantages in the NFL when you compare the success of the team at home versus on the road. This is a byproduct of being a great team in every circumstance, but it’s possibly related to the quiet environment and how fans don’t really give the home team any discernable help.
Compare that to the Seahawks or the Chiefs, where they have specifically structured stadiums to retain crowd noise and reflect it on to the field to disrupt opposing offense. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was unimpressed by the fans.
“It's not a great place,” Carroll said about the crowd environment, via ESPN. “They weren't nuts. It's because they're so used to winning. There was a time when they kicked their last field goal to go ahead, and it was like a round of applause for the nice effort. Gosh, our guys would be going berserk. We're so hungry for it. It's a gorgeous setting, beautiful arena and the fans, just the whole thing. It's really classy.”
Even NBC announcer Al Michaels had to comment on the silence of Patriots fans late in the fourth quarter.
“Have you ever heard 70,000 people quieter than this?,” Michaels asked the audience.
I don’t know if fan noise could have helped all of the blown assignments by the players, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
Carroll preceded Bill Belichick as the Patriots head coach from 1997-99 and fell victim to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. He thought that Sunday’s victory held a little more meaning than other games.
“It was pretty fun,” Carroll said. “I've gotta admit, I haven't had more fun just enjoying a win, really," Carroll said. "So there's some stuff in there somewhere. But it was a freakin' blast. The game was, the way that people were yelling at me walking on and off the field.”
Fans were apparently shouting their thanks to Carroll for opting to throw the ball on the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, leading to CB Malcolm Butler’s famous interception to seal the Patriots’ victory.
Carroll likely thanked Belichick for throwing a fade to TE Rob Gronkowski on the final goal line series, instead of running it with LeGarrette Blount or throwing a higher percentage pass.
Gillette Stadium will never be a loud place to play because it’s not really a part of the fan identity or experience, but some homefield advantage would have helped on Sunday.