Discussion

NFL's 5 toughest places to play

Thunderous domes, slippery fields present challenges to visitors

Originally Published: October 10, 2012
By Herm Edwards | ESPN Insider

Regardless of how good your football team is, it's difficult to win on the road in the National Football League. There are a multitude of challenges, both logistically and when you're out on the field. And all opposing stadiums aren't created equal. There are some that teams fear playing in and coaches know it's very difficult to win in.

Logistically, the road presents different challenges for young guys and veterans. For young guys, it's sometimes tough to understand the demands on them off the field. Interview requests; getting hotels for family members; extra tickets; partying away from home. All of those distractions can weigh on young players, especially rookies, and cause them to lose focus on the game. Veterans are different. They've already fallen into the traps, so they know how to handle themselves and many of them are married. For them, it's about missing their families. And most times they just want some shut-eye on Friday and Saturday nights.

On the field, pretty much all the problems are because of crowd noise. It seems so simple, but even though coaches pipe in sound during practice now, it's impossible to replicate the experience of being out on the field with 60,000 fans screaming at you. Unlike at home, where you can quiet the crowd and your QB can change the cadence to confuse defenses, you're at the defense's mercy on the road. Crowd noise forces your quarterback to go to a silent count. That's why you see QBs raise their leg while the center is looking back, so he knows when to snap it. It's also extremely difficult to run the no-huddle offense or have success in the red zone (when you're closest to the crowd) on the road.

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