Like every home game in 2020, the Washington Football Team took the field with smoke blowing near the tunnel. Yet, for the first time this season, there was more than artificial crowd noise or small cheers waiting for them on the other side.
With 3,000 fans allowed to attend Sunday's game against the New York Giants, FedEx Field had a little more energy and volume. It was something the players immediately noticed and enjoyed.
“Running out of the tunnel and seeing people out there put a smile on my face, put a smile on our faces," wide receiver Terry McLaurin said.
Having supporters back in the stadium for the game helped provide Washington with a little more "juice" throughout the contest. While players have become accustomed to generating their own spark throughout a campaign impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, being able to feed off the fan's energy always helps.
Seeing fans in the stands also acted as a reminder to McLaurin and others how much support they have. Even with a turbulent few months in the Washington area, many jumped at the opportunity to get back to FedEx Field and cheer on the team.
“To see our fans who have stuck by us through a tough offseason, a long first part of the season," McLaurin said." To see those people out there supporting us, it feels good.”
Head coach Ron Rivera was also pleased to hear the noise as well - even if it wasn't all positive. As Washington fell on Sunday in a 23-20 loss to the Giants, a few boos made their way down from the seats. Rivera wasn't complaining, though, because that aspect is what makes having fans at the game an authentic experience.
“I noticed the fans, you know, it was nice. I get it, sometimes when things aren’t going well people are going to say some things. That’s what they pay for, the opportunity to voice their opinion," Rivera said. “It was good, It was good to have people in the stands. It’s nice to know that they’re there. Win or lose, the nice things is, as I said, it’s just good to have them out there.”
In the future, Rivera and company will hope to provide the fanbase with more wins and reasons to cheer. Having supporters at the game feels like a reward for those on the field, and they want to return to the favor.
No matter how many Burgundy and Gold jerseys are in the seats, or what chants rain down, Washington will always be happy to have a group of fans there.
"We just want to continue to work harder and put a good product on the field, something they could be proud of as fans," McLaurin said. "I hope they keep supporting us, keep coming and it was great to see them out there today.”