It’s not been an easy week for the embattled Russell Wilson.
On top of his poor play and a recent hamstring injury, he is now having his favorite catchphrase mocked.
Since joining the Denver Broncos, it has become commonplace to hear Wilson ending press conferences or videos with four now-famous words.
“Broncos country, let’s ride.”
However, after Wilson admitted that he spent four hours of his flight over to London for the Broncos’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars doing high knees down the aisle while his teammates slept, some of his NFL contemporaries have poked fun at the quarterback.
Following the Baltimore Ravens’ win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker chipped in, saying on an Instagram Live on the plane home: “What are we doing on the plane ride back home? I heard Lamar (Jackson) is leading us in high knees. Ravens flock, let’s fly.”
But Wilson – despite the immense scrutiny he was under – had the last laugh on Sunday as, despite some early errors, he helped the Broncos beat the Jaguars 21-17 at Wembley Stadium in London.
A late K’Wuan Williams interception of Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence sealed the victory and one which could prove an important turning point for the Broncos’ season.
Having missed last week’s game with an injury and with a bye week coming up, Wilson went some way to banishing his early season demons and possibly kickstart the Broncos season.
“We just needed a little momentum and there’s a long season left – I’ve played a lot of ball, played a lot of games, been through some amazing things and some tough things along the way, this is just part of the journey,” Wilson told ESPN afterwards.
Wilson continued: “Just because you want to climb the mountain doesn’t mean you won’t fall a little bit – you just got to keep climbing. I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t handle the pressure. I kind of enjoy it.
“These guys have been awesome too lifting me up – their work ethic coming in every day no matter what’s going on or what’s been said. At the end of the day I also know who I am. God’s given me an amazing ability to keep going, keep playing and keep leading, so at the day of the day I ain’t going to blink.”
It’s been seven weeks to forget for Wilson, having being traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Broncos and signing a huge extension.
Wilson has looked out of sorts from day one, missing open receivers and what was previously easy throws for a regular Pro Bowler like himself.
With his catchphrases and his unwavering confidence in spite of the results, Wilson’s positive outlook has failed to cover up the warts his new team has shown.
Together with some early struggles for first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, it has been an ugly start.
And the Super Bowl XLVIII champion came to London with the primary aim of getting back on track. But it couldn’t have started much worse as he threw an interception on just his second drive of the game as what looked to be another disappointing week started in the worst possible manner.
But, with the help of a talented defense and Lawrence’s struggles, the game remained close throughout.
And, eventually, the Broncos began to click. A touch-pass from Wilson to Jerry Jeudy got the team on the board after the Jaguars had raced into a 10-0 first-half lead.
After halftime, Denver continued to look much more like what their offseason hopes had been. The offense began to move the ball efficiently. Melvin Gordon’s touchdown just after the break gave Denver the lead for the first time, before Travis Etienne wrestled back control for the Jaguars in their home-away-from-home home.
But a fourth quarter touchdown from Latavius Murry – set up by a deep, 47-yard pass to KJ Hamler – gave the Broncos the lead again.
With the Jaguars needing their own comeback, Lawrence failed in the big moment, throwing an interception to Williams, ending Wilson’s tough week in just the way he would have wanted.
And at the end of it, standing on the Wembley field, a victorious quarterback once again, Wilson had a message for those watching.
“Broncos country, let’s ride, baby.”