The Atlanta Falcons have been defeated just once in their last 13 games at the Georgia Dome, and the last time they lost to an NFC team at home was in 2007.
Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg thinks he knows why.
“Crowd noise is a big factor,” said Mornhinweg, whose 7-4 team visits the Falcons on Sunday. “It’s going to be an issue this week. Much of the game is about beating your opponent to the punch. It’s kind of like a boxing match.
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“With that crowd noise they have there it’s an advantage. There are teams that are built that way, for the dome, for the noise. They just beat people to the punch in their place, so that’s the biggest thing right there.”
The Eagles took advantage of rare spring-like weather and practiced outside Thursday. They are expected to go indoors Friday, and pump in simulated sound to get ready for the dome.
Two of the loudest places the Eagles played this season, San Diego and Oakland, resulted in two of the team’s four losses.
Atlanta will be the first dome game for the Eagles this season. They went 1-1 indoors last year, both in the postseason: a win over the Minnesota Vikings and a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC championship game.
In Andy Reid‘s 11 years as head coach, the Eagles are 7-7 in dome games.
“It’s kind of a different mindset in a dome,” quarterback Donovan McNabb said. “The key factor that plays such a major part for (Atlanta) at home is the crowd factor and just kind of the past few years I think they’ve only lost one game at home, so that confidence factor is something they kind of ride off us as well.”
Atlanta (6-5) is 5-0 at home this season, with wins over Miami, Carolina, Chicago, Washington and Tampa Bay. The Falcons‘ only home loss last year was to Denver, and the last NFC team to beat them at home was New Orleans in December 2007.
“One of their strengths is their quickness and speed and on the turf with the crowd noise advantage they can get after you,” Mornhinweg said. “They can make a good offense look bad if you’re not right on it. So that’s one of the emphasis we have this week. That’s one of many.”
NOTES: WR DeSean Jackson (concussion) remained out of practice Thursday and it looks like he will miss Sunday’s game. It’s uncertain yet if No. 3 receiver Jason Avant or Reggie Brown will replace him in the starting lineup. Recently promoted practice squad WR Jordan Norwood could see time as the No. 4 receiver. … Rookie Jeremy Maclin, who is averaging minus-1.3 yards on four punt returns, will fill in for Jackson in that area. … LB Akeem Jordan, who missed the past three games with a knee injury, practiced with the scout team Thursday. It’s not certain if he will return Sunday. … DT Brodrick Bunkley (ankle) practiced and could play Sunday. … K David Akers was the special teams player of the month for November.