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Road Warriors

Posted Sep 13, 2012

The Broncos will attempt to duplicate their strong Week 1 showing on the road in one of the NFL’s toughest places for visiting teams to play.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the first time this season, the Broncos will take to the road on Monday night.

They’ll face a tough test against an Atlanta team that ranks third in the league in home winning percentage with a 26-6 record in the four seasons since Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan entered the league.

“You want to be considered as a road team – guys that can go in there and get the victories on the road,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “Most of the time, those will be the difficult times, especially in an environment like the Georgia Dome. Their fans will be jumping. It’ll be loud for our offense. It’s a new challenge for us.”

Part of what makes Atlanta such a difficult place for opposing teams to play is the noise factor that the Georgia Dome helps create.

For that reason, the Broncos pumped in crowd noise through Thursday’s practice to help both sides of the ball get used to playing without the ability to hear one another.

“My headache is proof that I’m not sure it can get much louder than what we had it today,” Head Coach John Fox said. “Again, it’s all about what you do under pressure. It’s one thing to simulate noise, but this game is (about more) than just noise.”

The decibel level will be at its highest when Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense are on the field. Manning said the biggest issue that can arise from the noise is being able to communicate the play calls.

“It’s just a loud place to play and I think communication’s important, trying to be on the same page, not having one guy running one play and one guy running another,” Manning said. “Practicing with the crowd noise, it gets you ready as good as it can. It’s hard to simulate 80,000 people in the stands. I think communication will be important this week.”

Manning is no stranger to playing in a dome – during the first 14 years of his career, he played 111 games in a dome, including all of his home games as an Indianapolis Colt. Although he had success on whatever surface he took snaps from, his 98.9 passer rating ranks third all-time among players with at least 1,000 pass attempts indoors.

Manning downplayed the significance of the playing surface, saying it was his goal to “try to play good wherever you play.” Linebacker Joe Mays agreed, saying that it’s more about who you play than where you play them.

“I think the players make the dome, definitely," Mays said. "The dome doesn’t make the players at all. (Manning) would have been good anywhere. He would have been great on Mars.”

The Broncos face the NFL’s second-toughest schedule in 2012, and to continue their strong start, they’ll need to prove that they can take their Week 1 success on the road.

“To be able to win on the road in hostile environments, that puts you on another level,” Mays said. “We try to go on the road and be road warriors, that’s what we call ourselves. We’re definitely going to try to go in there and get a win.  But it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be tough sledding. But I think we’re built for it, I think we’re ready for it. All we have to do is go out there and execute and we’ll be fine.”