When it came to Joe Burrow’s presence on the field Monday night, one thing mattered most – his determination to compete, even if he had to push through the pain.
Eight days after aggravating a strained right calf, Burrow not only played but also completed every offensive snap, propelling the Cincinnati Bengals to their first win of the season. The final score: a nail-biting 19-16 decision over the Los Angeles Rams.
Battling a Losing Streak and Calf Troubles
The Bengals, with a record of 1-2, were staring at the possibility of a three-game losing streak, a situation they hadn’t faced since Burrow’s rookie season in 2020. This looming challenge played a pivotal role in Burrow’s determination to take the field, despite his calf issues.
Speaking about the decision, Burrow acknowledged the risk involved, stating, “There is a risk to go out there and potentially reinjure it. But there’s also the risk of not going out there and being 0-3. So I wanted to be out there for my guys, and I was confident that I would be able to do what I needed to get the win.”
Joe Burrow’s Performance and Self-Reflection
Joe Burrow completed 26-of-49 passes for 259 yards, although he couldn’t secure any touchdowns and threw one interception. Post-game, he candidly admitted that both he and the offense needed to step up their game. However, their performance proved sufficient, especially with Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson contributing two interceptions and the defense amassing six sacks while holding the Rams to just one touchdown on four red zone drives.
The Importance of Confidence and Preparation
Burrow’s decision to play didn’t come lightly. He diligently went through a workout on Monday morning to gauge his fitness for the game. His criterion for taking the field was simple – no setbacks. After successful practices on Friday and Saturday, he felt confident in his ability to compete and shared his sentiment with the team’s personnel.
Ja’Marr Chase’s Concern and Joe Burrow’s Resolve
Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase had expressed his concern throughout the week, stating that Burrow shouldn’t play unless he was completely healthy. He reiterated this opinion before the game, saying, “I was like, ‘You got nuts, boy. I didn’t want you to play.’ That just shows that Joe’s hardheaded. But he’s a football player, man. You can’t knock him from being tough like that. They don’t make too many quarterbacks tough like that.”
Burrow’s response was to promise Chase that he would involve him heavily in the game against the Rams. True to his word, Chase had a remarkable performance, making 12 catches on 15 targets for 141 yards, including a 43-yard play that tested Burrow’s calf.
Zac Taylor’s Bold Playcall and Trust in Joe Burrow
Bengals coach Zac Taylor, who also serves as the team’s offensive playcaller, dialed up a risky play involving Burrow rolling to his right with no protection. This play resulted in a wide-open connection with Chase, producing Cincinnati’s longest play of the season.
Taylor explained that the decision was made after extensive discussions in the days leading up to the game, focusing on both Burrow and his own comfort with the strategy. They had another conversation before the play, which eventually set up a successful field goal.
Joe Burrow’s Adaptability for Victory
The Bengals didn’t require Burrow to be exceptionally mobile; they needed him to be mobile enough. Burrow was cautious about extending plays and didn’t hesitate to throw the ball away quickly to navigate through the game. Despite facing two sacks and six hits, including two from Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Burrow persevered on the field until the end.
The Road Ahead for the Bengals
While Burrow acknowledges that his calf injury could flare up during the season, his performance on Monday night offers promising signs for the Bengals as they prepare for an upcoming road game against the Tennessee Titans.
Reflecting on the game, Burrow stated, “We didn’t have any setbacks today, but it’s still day-to-day. I’ve learned through this process that it can happen at any time. It was good to get through this one. And that means we’ll be stronger for this week.”