Seahawks drooped. Fans hushed.
Atlanta had just blocked Steven Hauschka’s extra point to stay ahead by one point late in last weekend’s game. The kicking team trudged solemnly to Seattle’s sideline.
Guess who the brightest guy was there.
“All right! Keep believing with me!” Russell Wilson said, walking onto the edge of the field with 4 minutes left in the game to greet Hauschka and those downcast mates.
NFL Films captured this with a microphone it had on Wilson during the game, for its weekly “Inside the NFL” highlights show on Showtime television.
“We are going to make it when we need to!” Wilson told Hauschka and his teammates “We are going to make it when we have to!
Two minutes and 46 seconds of playing time plus an Earl Thomas interception later, Wilson was prophet. Again. Hauschka made the kick that beat the Falcons, a 44-yard field goal with 1:57 to go.
“I really don’t know how to say enough about his mentality,” coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month. “He has a perfect mentality to endure whatever he needs to endure. And he does it on the strength of his belief in himself, commitment to his teammates — and just this marvelous will.
“It’s been a marvelous spirit to watch. It’s been a thrill.”
On Thursday, three days before the Seahawks (4-1) try to cement their NFC West lead at division-rival Arizona (3-3), the quarterback explained the origins of his constant positivity.
“I wouldn’t want anybody else doing it other than myself,” he said of being Seattle’s franchise quarterback, “because I believe in myself.”
In his explanation, he had advice for parents and youth coaches who push specialization at a young age: Just say no.
“I had so many opportunities to play multiple sports,” the 27-year-old Wilson said.
“When I was younger I was constantly playing baseball. I was constantly playing football, basketball. I always try to tell parents all the time, you know, they always ask me, ‘What do you recommend for our kids?’ And I always say to them that it’s important for kids to go outside and play. Go outside as much as you can. Play multiple sports. Because you also get to work on your social skills with other people and other teams, and go through ups and downs and challenges. But you also get to meet new people, all those sorts of things — and the, ‘Hey, you know what? The game’s not over.’ That type of mentality.”
Wilson said his mother and father, Tammy and the late Harrison, constantly encouraged him and his brother and sister “through ups and downs in life. But also in the game.”
So after the Falcons blocked Hauschka’s low kick, Wilson said his first thought was “just move on to the next play, because there is a lot of time left in the game.”
“Those are the moments that are galvanizing. You bring people together. We look forward to those moments,” he said. “I believe that’s why we’ve been able to overcome situations, a lot of opportunities where we’ve been able to win a lot of football games. Because we don’t give up.
“We believe in Steve, because he’s — in my opinion — the best kicker in the National Football League. We’ve got a lot of those guys, across the board. So the confidence never wavers.”
Not even with Wilson down to zero healthy legs.
Oh, the high-ankle sprain he got Sept. 11 in the opening win over Miami and the sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee he got while beating San Francisco Sept. 25 are improving.
“Every day I get better,” he said, “which is exciting.”
“And ultimately it’s about winning games. We’ve been able to do that so far.”
But Wilson’s lack of his usual speed against the Falcons showed his healing process continues. He remains unable to run read options, and after having nearly 25 percent of Seattle’s rushing yards last season, he doesn’t have even 8 percent of them through five games and the two injuries this season.
Wilson said Thursday that he still has with him, at his home on Lake Washington in Bellevue, his physical therapist, who flew up from California, plus his masseuse.
“Yeah, I do. Yeah, the whole crew is here,” Wilson said. “Drew Marcos is here and doing the whole physical therapy and all that.”
Last week, he described getting up often in the middle of the night to continue therapy on his legs, including heavy doses of ice.
“I always get treatment. Constantly,” he said. “So it’s not really anything much different. It’s kind of one of those things I do it anyway. I think it’s important just to keep maintaining your body every week. It’s a long season, and you want to be as fresh as possible.”
Wilson had one other source of his positive preparation: he said beginning when he was 5 years old, while on drives in the family car around town, his mom and dad would quiz him with hypotheticals.
One of those questions was: “OK, you just won the Super Bowl. Now what?”
Two decades later, heading to a division rival he’s beaten three consecutive times at Arizona, he’s living that “now what?”
GRAHAM, CHANCELLOR MISS PRACTICE
Tight end Jimmy Graham missed practice Thursday and had a new hip injury listed on the Seahawks’ daily practice-participation report.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor missed his third straight practice dating to last week with a pulled groin. Chancellor sat out last weekend’s game and could be a game-time decision to play at Arizona.
Graham ruptured a patellar tendon Nov. 29. He played all but three of Seattle’s offensive snaps in last weekend’s win over Atlanta, catching six passes for 89 yards.
Graham has 18 catches for 302 yards and a touchdown in the past three games.
“It’s a battle for me every day,” Graham said after Sunday’s game about his recovery from knee surgery.
A couple weeks ago, Graham was on the injury report for back spasms during the practice week. This hip injury listed Thursday is new.
The team does not make Carroll, its lone voice on injury status, available to the media from before practice Wednesday until after practice Friday. So there was no other word on Graham’s situation for Sunday’s game.
Outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis was a new addition to the report with an ankle injury that kept him from practicing.
Rookie defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson was limited one day after practicing fully. He’s been trying to come back from a broken thumb for which he recently had surgery.
In Arizona, the Cardinals listed quarterback Carson Palmer as limited with a hamstring injury one day after he did not practice. Palmer left Monday night’s Arizona win over the Jets with what the team said was a strained hamstring. The quarterback said after the game that he was dehydrated and had cramps.
THE KICKER WITH A STAGE NAME
Hauschka made news in Seattle this week when he told KCPQ television that the teams for which he’s played have all gotten his name wrong. That’s more than a few: Seattle, Denver, Baltimore in the NFL, and North Carolina State and Middlebury College before that.
He told Q13 that his given name is actually Stephen — and “I just like to go by Steve.” He cited a “mix up” in college with a sports information department that just carried “Steven” forward throughout his football career.
Even his driver’s license reads “Stephen Hauschka.”
So as he headed out to practice, Hauschka was asked if we all should now write Stephen or Steve for his name.
“Ah, just keep doing what you’ve been doing,” he said breezily. “Just go with Steven, with a ‘v.’
“That’s my stage name.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle