Russell Wilson characteristically saw many positives in Seahawks’ opening escape past Bengals
Russell Wilson loves to say, among other pet phrases: “The separation is in the preparation.”
Heck, he may say it to himself when he brushes his teeth every morning.
Check out how the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback is trying to separate and prepare himself this week for his team’s first road game of the season:
The eighth-year veteran has never played in Pittsburgh. So the Super Bowl winner and six-time Pro Bowl QB is going to extra lengths to prepare for what he’s never done in the NFL.
“I’m excited to go to a new place,” Wilson said Thursday, three days before Seahawks (1-0) and Steelers (0-1) at Heinz Field. “You know me. I look up what the field looks like. I figure out where the clocks are. I kind of get a feel for it.
“I get used to it in my mind—now. I’m practicing there already, you know, right now.”
Wait...how? Does Wilson look up Google images from inside of Heinz Field, or something?
“Yeah, I will,” he said, chuckling, “to visualize what it looks like. Get a feel for it.”
So in addition to films of T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward and Pittsburgh’s aggressive, 3-4 defense, Wilson is studying this in his game preparation this week:
“Most of the stadiums I kind of know, because I’ve watched a lot of football,” Wilson said. “But you kind of feel what the crowd does, and all that kind of stuff.”
Wilson even knows that in the third quarter of home games Heinz Field’s public-address system blares the Styx classic song “Renegade” accompanying a Steelers hype video to get the Pittsburghers riled up.
“That’s going to be cool,” Wilson said.
Sunday’s game will leave Wilson with only two stadiums he hasn’t played in during the preseason, regular season or postseason: Rich Stadium (now called New Era Stadium), the Buffalo Bills’ home in Orchard Park, N.Y., and the Cleveland Browns’ home field (FirstEnergy Stadium).
The Seahawks played a “road” game against the Bills during Wilson’s rookie season of 2012. But Buffalo got paid to move its home game against Seattle to Toronto. The Seahawks routed the Bills 50-17 that day. Wilson’s gray road jersey from that game is displayed on the second floor of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, because that day he became the first NFL player to rush for three touchdowns and throw for another in the first half of a game.
“It’s one of my favorite parts of playing in the National Football League, is the traveling and playing in all these different venues,” he said. “I love playing on the road.
“Home is always the best. But just going on the road playing in different stadiums, different venues, it’s the best thing about it.”
Wilson said he is particularly pumped for Friday’s trip.
“I’m excited to go to Pittsburgh,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Steeler Nation, and just what they’ve done over the years, watching championship football. Obviously, Ben Roethlisberger, over the years, is one of my favorite guys to watch.”
“He’s been a champion since, obviously, being young,” Wilson, 30, said of the 37-year-old Steelers quarterback. “He’s made a lot of great plays, a lot great moments. He’s tough as nails. He can make every throw. He is tough to bring down.”
And tough to beat.
Wilson talked Thursday about the last time he played against Roethlisberger and the Steelers. On Nov. 29, 2015, Wilson’s 26th birthday, Seattle’s quarterback was sick. He was up at 5:45 a.m. taking intravenous fluids. That afternoon it took the best game of Wilson’s career to that point—a then-regular season-high 345 yards passing and career-high five touchdown throws—to beat Pittsburgh 39-30 on a wild Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Roethlisberger threw for 456 yards at Seattle that day. It remains the most yards passing by a quarterback in one game against them in Seahawks history.
“I remember him playing here,” Wilson said. “I was sick as a dog. My stomach was all torn up. I remember I was throwing up, and everything else. Going number two and not feeling very good—there’s another way to say it, but...
“So I wasn’t feeling very good, but I remember him just battling. Us looking across the field at one another; ‘this is going to be a good one.’ It went down to the wire.
“I love great players. I love watching great players. I love being on the same field with great players. And he’s one of those guys. The ultimate quarterback.”