The NFL’s Week 1 experiment with artificial crowd noise is largely being deemed a failure.

The league provided teams with audio of pre-recorded crowd noise that is specific to each stadium in an attempt to create an atmosphere of a football game with fans in attendance. Every broadcast was given a different audio feed to mimic a live crowd. 

“There was no noise. We’ve practiced with a heckuva lot more noise than that,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters after the team’s 34-23 road loss against the New Orleans Saints.

“I was disappointed. I don’t think it was fair to the Saints to have it that low. You could have an easy conversation with someone across the field it was that low.”

Tom Brady compared his first game with the Buccaneers to a scrimmage because New Orleans’ Superdome was so quiet. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said it felt like the game was being played in Tampa Bay.

The Superdome usually gives the Saints one of the best home-field advantages in the  league. The stadium reached 128 decibels when New Orleans hosted the 2019 NFC Championship Game. The NFL is limiting each stadium’s PA system to 70 decibels of fake crowd noise.

“It was eerie — definitely uncharacteristic for sure,” Saints tight end Jared Cook said. “You could hear a lot. The music wasn't loud enough. The crowd noise wasn't loud enough. You had to bring your own energy. Our fans fuel us. The people get us going. it was just a day you had to bring your own juice.”

The Saints were able to pull out a Week 1 victory in the new atmosphere. The Minnesota Vikings, who arguably have an even better home-field advantage when the stadium is full, came up short in a 43-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

The Vikings entered the 2020 season with a 23-9 home record since U.S. Bank Stadium opened four years ago. Minnesota’s 104 sacks at home are the most during that time.

 

 

 

Without having to deal with a loud crowd, Aaron Rodgers passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns against Minnesota’s defense Sunday. The visiting quarterback wasn’t sacked once. Green Bay had no false-start penalties. 

The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers lost at home to the Arizona Cardinals 24-20. The 49ers were one of four home teams that blew a fourth-quarter lead. 

The only two teams that had limited fans in the stands were victorious in Week 1. The Kansas City Chiefs routed the Houston Texans 34-20 in front of 15,895 fans Thursday night. In front of 14,100 fans, the Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off Sunday’s biggest upset by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 27-20.

A few home teams found success without fans in attendance. The Los Angeles Rams opened SoFi Stadium, the world’s most expensive arena, with a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night. The Washington Football team came back from a 17-0 deficit to upset the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17.

Home teams that played in empty venues went 6-6 on the first NFL Sunday of the season. Teams won 51.7% of their games at home in the 2019 season, the lowest mark since 1972.

New Orleans Saints Superdome An empty stadium is shown during the second quarter during a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images