On the day Russell Wilson was born at Cincinnati's Christ Hospital, Nov. 29, 1988, the Bengals were savoring a Monday they just saw their record jump to 10-3 on the way to the AFC title and a Super Bowl berth.
Wilson, the quarterback who has led Seattle to two Super Bowls, sounds like he can't wait to return to the land of his birth for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) at Paul Brown Stadium.
"My hometown. The Nast 'Natti," Wilson greeted Wednesday's conference call of Cincinnati media members. "I used to go there all the time when I was younger. A few times a year because I had family there."
Wilson's late father Harrison worked in the legal department of Procter and Gamble before he moved the family to Richmond, Va., shortly after his son was born. Russell said Wednesday his father often talked about the Bengals even though he had tried out for the Chargers and the son liked their uniforms whenever he watched them, but that was the extent of his relationship with the home town team.
"Anthony Munoz played there, right?" Wilson asked. "Whenever I think of Cincinnati, Ohio I think of White Castle and Skyline Chili."
With family no longer in town, Wilson says he hasn't been to Cincinnati "in a while." In college, he played the University of Cincinnati, but this is his first game here.
"It's going to be a fun game," Wilson said. "Their defense flies all over the field."
It's a homecoming for Wilson in more ways than one. The Bengals have two guys he's anxious to see play, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and right guard Kevin Zeitler. Sanu is one of his training partners from the 2012 draft and Zeitler blocked for him at Wisconsin.
"Just a guy who was strong as an ox, first of all," Wilson said of Zeitler. "Always in the film room studying. He loved the game of football. He's always talking about a love for the game of football. Very passionate. Good family guy. I've got a lot of respect for him, knowing him, a guy I've been in the trenches with. I had a lot of fun winning a lot of games at the University of Wisconsin with him. He's as tough as it gets."
He didn't spend as much time with Sanu, but, like he said, it was quality time.
"I'm looking forward to watching him play, too. He's a good guy, obviously a great player and even better guy. I'm sure you guys know that," Wilson said.
And Wilson knows all about Sanu's ability to throw the ball.
"He can throw it. He's got huge hands," Wilson said. " He can really spin the football. I'll make sure I tell our defense to watch out for him throwing it." . . .
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll called running back Marshawn Lynch day-to-day in his Wednesday afternoon conference call with the Cincinnati media, but everyone at Paul Brown Stadium thinks he's playing in Sunday's game. Carroll says the Bengals offense is dangerous because it is "so explosive," with quarterback Andy Dalton doing such a good job distributing the ball.
Carroll, the former secondary coach, admires the aggressiveness of the Bengals DBs and the former USC coach says he had an interest dating back to high school in Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick.
"We've had our eye on some of your guys for a while," he said. . .
After missing the only game of his career last Sunday, Bengals safety George Iloka (ankle) said he expects to play in Sunday's game against two-time NFC champ Seattle and he was on the field in pads with the rest of the club when practice started Wednesday and was limited.
Running back Jeremy Hill (knee) and safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring) were also limited. . .
Cornerback Adam Jones (elbow, groin), who left Sunday's game in the second half, was on the rehab field. He missed Wednesday's practice last week and returned full go the rest of the week. Defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry (unknown) looked OK, but he started on the rehab field and then rode the bike. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and cornerback Leon Hall had the day off . . .
Iloka emphasized before Wednesday's practice that Sunday is about the Bengals defense vs. the Seattle offense. But he also has watched tape of Seahawks super safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas trying to take characteristics from each. He was particularly impressed with Chancellor's game-winning forced fumble Monday night . . .
How good is Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch? In his Wednesday news conference head coach Marvin Lewis dropped Corey Dillon's name when talking about his upper-body strength and power . . .He fully expects Lynch to play after missing the win over Detroit Monday . . .
Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga got a game ball for his work against the run last Sunday against the Chiefs and Lewis said he needs another effort like that one against Lynch and Seattle's mauling running game.
Maualuga agreed the Hawks have a "special,' running game. "But we're special, too,' he said . . .
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander on the Seattle defensive front: "They've been giving up an average of three yards per rush forever . . . They're never out of position." . . .
Sunday's game is ballyhooed as a Titanic confrontation between the Bengals' second-ranked offense and the Seahawks' second-ranked defense.
Sunday's game against two-time NFC champ Seattle (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) is ballyhooed as a Titanic confrontation between the Bengals' second-ranked offense and the Seahawks' second-ranked defense.
And that's just fine with Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther because even though his unit is ranked 19th in the league with yards allowed, he's more concerned about points scored. The Bengals are ranked eighth in points allowed at 19.3 after holding the Chiefs to seven field goals while giving up 461 yards. Seattle is tied for third in scoring at 17.8.
"My job is to limit points, period. That's what I get paid to do," Guenther said this week, rather defiantly. "It ain't holding them to 200 yards total offense and three of them are touchdowns. You know what I'm saying? Regardless where we get the ball -- and that was one of the points I made to the players in the offseason:
"Hey, if we happen to get a turnover and the ball's on the 10-yard line, let's go play defense, hold them to three. If they get an interception return down to the 20-yard line, they're in field goal range, hold them to three. So I'm paid to keep them off the scoreboard."
And they're doing it at a good rate. They're on pace to allow 308 points, just three more than the 2013 defense that finished third overall in NFL defense. It would also be the third fewest points allowed in head coach Marvin Lewis' 13 seasons.
The 2009 AFC North champs gave up just 291 on the way to sweeping the division and my how things roll over in the NFL. Only three defenders are left from that club: tackle Domata Peko, right end Michael Johnson, and cornerback Leon Hall.
Peko, the 11-year vet, plays his 144th game Sunday, tying him with former long snapper Brad St. Louis for 21st on the Bengals' all-time list. The only defensive linemen ahead of him are nose tackle Tim Krumrie with 188 and end Eddie Edwards with 170.
If Peko continues his team-high streak of 87 straight games until the end of the season, he'll have 155 and pass center Rich Braham (146), punter Pat McInally (149), wide receiver Chad Johnson (151) and center Bob Johnson (154).