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Redskins Prepare For Raucous Qwest Field



Qwest Field, where the Redskins take on the Seattle Seahawk this Sunday, has a reputation as one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.

The Redskins have lived it twice in the last three years.

In 2005, the Redskins lost 20-10 to the Seahawks in the NFC Divisional playoffs. Last year, they lost 35-14 in the NFC Wild Card playoffs.

Heartbreaking losses, to be sure.

Players have plenty of motivation to avenge those losses, too.

First they have to prepare for the Seahawks on the field.

Then they have to deal with the fans.

For Rock Cartwright, the 67,000-seat Qwest Field was so loud last year that he had to shout at the top of his lungs just to talk to a teammate standing next to him.

Before last year's game, Mike Sellers suggested that the team pumps crowd noise into the stadium, although he admittedly had no proof.

The comment only made the Seahawks louder on game day. And of course fans gave Sellers, a native of Lacey, Wash., a hard time about it.

"It was all in fun," Sellers said this week. "I enjoy that kind of [back-and-forth]. They have some great fans there. I have seen a big change from the Kingdome days [where the Seahawks used to play until 2002] to Qwest Field where you have die-hard football fans and an outdoor stadium."

Crowd noise was no laughing matter for the offensive line last year.

"The crowd noise really hindered us at times with our inability to change the snap count and our inability to audible and communicate from one guy to the next," Pete Kendall said.

Jason Campbell makes his first start at Qwest Field. He was an untested rookie in the 2005 game and was rehabbing a knee injury last year. Todd Collins started in his place.

"I think that the team really feeds off the energy of the crowd," Campbell said. "When you go in there, you have to make sure everyone is on the same page and communicating well."

So communication is paramount. It's likely that the offense will use a silent snap count at times, too.

In practice this week, the Redskins pumped in audio of crowd noise to help simulate conditions.

This year, the Seahawks are struggling at 2-8 and in last place in the NFC West, so it remains to be seen how energized the fans will be on Sunday.

Players hope to grab an early lead to take the crowd out of the game.

The Redskins are preparing for a raucous environment. Really, that's all they know when they go to Qwest Field.

"I just think it's real tough to win on the road there," Chris Samuels said. "The Seahawks beat us on the field, I don't want to suggest otherwise. But the crowd factor really helped them a lot."

This year, the Redskins have head coach Jim Zorn and three former Seahawks from last year--Shaun Alexander, Ryan Plackemeier and Mike Green--on the roster.

They each praised the Seahawks fans when asked about the crowd noise.

"The fans really take pride in supporting their team," Zorn said. "They feel they make the difference, and that's why they are out there. They feel like if they can get you to jump off-sides, it wasn't the situation that got you to jump off-sides, it was the guy sitting in row 8, section 121. That's how they feel about it."

Added Plackemeier: "When we played at Qwest, we never expected to lose. The fans were great to me there and they have a passion for the game. They are intense. I think that city really wants a winner and they get behind the team."

The Redskins have won at Qwest Field before.

In 2002, the Redskins defeated the Seahawks 14-3. That was Steve Spurrier's first year as Redskins head coach.

It was also Cartwright's rookie season.

"Seattle has been tough on us [ever since]," he said. "I guess they are our West Coast rival."

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