NEW ORLEANS — Bucs coach Bruce Arians was expecting the artificial noise being pumped into the Superdome on Sunday to be much louder and more of a factor.
Instead, Arians wished it had been amped up in the Bucs' 34-23 loss to the Saints, because it brought “absolutely no energy into the building."
"There was no noise,” Arians said. "It was like a regular practice with no noise. We’ve practiced with a lot more noise than that. I was kind of disappointed. I don’t think it was fair to the Saints to have it that low, because we could have a decent conversation halfway across the field to somebody. It’s not a very good deal. It should be fixed.”
With no fans in many NFL stadiums, the league is allowing artificial crowd noise to be pumped in up to 85 decibels. In a normal setting, the Superdome is typically one of the loudest NFL venues.
It likely benefited TV broadcasts, which were able to pick up on-field chatter better, but for the excitement and anticipation this game brought, it wasn’t felt inside the dome.
“It felt like a scrimmage out there, but obviously it counts,” Bucs quarterback Tom Brady said.
Even from the press box way at the top of the stadium, players could be heard conversing, especially during commercial breaks when the sound was entirely cut off.
The Bucs had prepared for Sunday’s game by pumping in tremendously loud crowd noise during their two training camp sessions at Raymond James Stadium.
Arians hopes it’s louder when the Bucs have their home opener next Sunday.
“I would hope so,” Arians said. “My mom probably wants it louder all the time so she doesn’t hear me cussing.”
Defense does its thing
The Bucs defense forced punts on the Saints' first three possessions of the second half, including two three-and-outs, a sequence in which inside linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White led the way.
Tampa Bay needed the defense to step up then, because it was right after Brady threw a pick-six on the first drive of the half to give the Saints a 24-7 lead.
David and White each had a team-high 11 tackles, and David added two tackles for a loss and one quarterback hit, providing pressure on a day in which the Bucs had just one sack of Drew Brees.
“I thought the defense played really well the whole second half, got a bunch of three-and-outs to give the offense a chance,” Arians said. “But those two guys played really, really well, but I gotta watch.”
The run defense, ranked No. 1 in the league last season, held the Saints to just 82 rushing yards as a team. Michael Thomas, who toasted the Bucs for 296 receiving yards in two meetings last season, had just 17 yards on three catches. It marked his lowest receiving yards total in 43 regular-season games, when he had 11 yards on Oct. 15, 2017.
United for a cause
Before the game started, Bucs players and coaches locked arms and stood together in a single line as Lift Every Voice and Sing played.
The Bucs were on the field alone some 20 minutes before kickoff as Alicia Keys' rendition of the song known as the Black national anthem played on the Superdome sound system.
“It was an ongoing thing from a long time ago,” Bucs inside linebacker Lavonte David said. “Guys felt comfortable standing together in unity. We’ve got people from a lot of different backgrounds on this football team and we’re all one family. That’s what we always preach.”
Arians locked arms with receiver Chris Godwin on his left and linebacker Devin White on his right.
Players wore shirts that said “One team: Injustice Against One of Us Is Injustice Against All of Us” on the front and “End Racism” on the back.
The Saints wore shirts that said “#SAYHERNAME,” a reference to the death of Breonna Taylor.