Updated: May 20, 2021
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LSU ODYSSEY....HOME OF CHAMPIONS
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
JOE BURROW (BENGALS)
249 Passing Yards 26/37 2 TDs 3RD DOWN COMPLETIONS: 7 3RD DOWN TD PASSES: 1 3RD DOWN RUSHES: 1 GAINS OF 10+: 8 GAINS OF 20+ 2 3RD INC: 3 4TH DOWN COMPLETIONS: 1 70.3 % COMPLETION 10/15 ON 3RD DOWN 2020: 2,272 YARDS 11 TDs 5 INTs 130 RUSHING YARDS 35 CARRIES 3 TDs I think we're now beyond hyperbole concerning Joseph Burrow's rookie season...
Every prideful journalist who balks at the energy and imagery of hyperbole fail to understand its aptitude when talking about Joe Burrow.
Leading the Bengals to a 2-5-1 record thus far, many would scoff at his 59.9% QBR or 5 interceptions, but when watching Joe Burrow's performances, you can't help being reminded of his electric title-winning, Heisman-cradling, history-making 2019 season. Sure, the Bengals are being....well...the Bengals when it comes to the clutch at times throughout the first half of Burrow's debut campaign (inability to beat the Eagles, Browns or Chargers) and there's been more than a few occasions where this team have let themselves down... however, the passion, fury, dedication and will to win from Burrow is influencing his teammates to geaux above and beyond. Joe is showing his Bengals' teammates how to win with confidence & swagger while having trust in their coaches and each other...and you're starting to see some special performances (win or lose) from his fellow teammates because of Joe's leadership: Receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are telepathic with Burrow at this point, as seen on two different third down completions (from 7 total) vs Kristian Fulton's Tennessee Titans on Sunday, although sadly Fulton was placed on short term IR. Joe Burrow was an electric church of doom vs Kristian Fulton's Titans: On one pass to Boyd, Burrow snuck forward through a collapsing pocket, spied his favorite target on a disrupted route heading straight up the gut. Tyler jostled with a DB providing an obvious pass interference, then Boyd tossed the Titans' defender aside to get free and Burrow trusted his receiver, letting the ball out of his hand...the pass zooming as a craven howitzer in suspended animation, aiming for Boyd's far left shoulder...away from any defender, aiming into a pocket of space and with perfect velocity and accuracy for Joe's receiver to make a comfortable catch....
Boyd hauled the ball in while having no idea the pass was coming... only a split second to react in what looks to be a tight window.... No...Joe's pass expanded the catch threshold, enabling Boyd to pull it in. On another early 3rd down conversion, Joe rolled to his right from intensive pressure nipping at his heels and while scanning downfield, Joe can see Tee Higgins in tight coverage...but with just enough wiggle room at the end of the corner route.
"Ah, to hell with it" Joe probably thought and unconsciously bombed away, launching a careening, bending like Beckham pass of unbridled, untouchable, heat seeking aerodynamics towards the corner, looping over the defender and containing just enough spank for the leaping Higgins to reach high above and secure the ball....the former Clemson receiver dragging a pair of toes just in bounds (Cris Carter would be especially proud). The ultimate example in "trusting your guy" right there. Throughout this game, Joe clocked the Titans up with brilliant football IQ....eschewing voluminous Elvis Grbac numbers for steady, 2001-era Patriots efficiency and possession-stalwart panache. The game-plan from Head Coach Zac Taylor and OC Brian Callahan offered Joe a steady diet of Gio Bernard in the sideline to sideline / vertical running game off the edge, a strategy which offered the Bengals' offensive line a hell of a lot of confidence and preserved energy....and gave the Bengals their 2nd victory....which....in the end, is all Joe cares about...period. Not just in football, but in life too...and though his numbers aren't as massive as they were against Cleveland, he displayed his animalistic brilliance over and over vs Tennessee for cutthroat gains and made the most stunning play a rookie has ever pulled off in the National Football League: For the first time this season, Joe wasn't sacked....and although his offensive line or pass protecting backs improved drastically, stats can be misleading: Burrow escaped 7 or 8 definite sacks, rolling out like he famously did at LSU, throwing rapid strikes down the field to Tee Higgins especially, many on 3rd or 4th down....but there was one moment above all else: The moment where Burrow cannibalized the Titans will be called the "Houdini Jeaux" play, henceforth: With 8:58 left in the 3rd quarter and Cincinnati leading 17-7, Burrow took the snap on 3rd and 10 and immediately felt the all-encompassing pressure from Harold Landry III, peeling inside the pocket and sneaking up on Joe.
Watching the play live, I shouted "JOE!" and as if he heard the thousands of hushed Bengals fans in the crowd or had eyes in the back of his head, Joe side-stepped and ducked out of Landry's grasp, #58 flying in from behind and hitting the turf after touching nothing except the shadow of Burrow's jersey. But as our hero stepped up to throw, the #1 overall pick felt Landry coming up behind his right shoulder yet again and correspondingly spun away to his left with a masterful half turn, the forsaken Titans' DE flailing his arms up at Burrow. Suddenly, Joe was forced into the deepest recesses of the backfield by a relentless Damon Webb. The madcap defender's arms gripped Joe's back, arms, butt and legs nearly the second after he'd escaped Landry's second and third attempts; Webb ripped at Joe, but as each part of his body escaped from his grasp like sand, Webb was powerless. Even though Webb forced Joe off balance and had the leverage advantage throughout the entire sequence, Burrow pivoted with his back to the defense, spun his body around to face forward, and somehow escaped two sack attempts simultaneously: one from Webb on all fours grabbing up at Joe once more and another Titans defender breathlessly overrunning "Houdini" Jeaux as he turned out of Webb's grip. Somehow, the burly Titan lineman chugged right passed Joe......as if Burrow's greatness was an illusion unto itself. Now heading forward with the first down line in sight (Joe weaved through another defender as he passed the line of scrimmage) it was the man who Joe originally juked out of his socks an eternity of 10 seconds ago (the Titans' Harold Landry) who finally tracked the Heisman-winner down once and for all and finished off the play, holding Burrow to a 7 yard gain...
The play lasted 13 seconds (8:58 to 8:45 when Joe finally hits the turf), featured 4 spins, 4 missed sacks, another missed tackle, all while Joe should've lost nearly 15 yards at one point,....truly a play no one will ever forget....especially not in Cincy. It must be seen to be believed or you wouldn't think this was possible....although, ask yourself: When Hasn't Joe Burrow delivered something otherworldly? When have we seen the Rookie of the Century's expectations being lowered by his own play?
"I'm just scratching the surface of where I can be...." Joe said after Cincy's 2nd and a half win and... we damn well agree.
This is a top gun Cincy's got on their hands...a serial winner...the "Iceman Cometh"... an enforcer of ultimate quarterbacking conquest serving the sexiest brand of football artistry on a gold-encrusted platter with the nonchalance of Sean Connery's James Bond, the flamboyant bravado of Muhammed Ali and the Midwestern poise of Tom Brady....
He's not only here to stay, get used to winning, Cincinnati....
On to Cincinnati indeed, Mr. Belichick...you, Mike Tomlin or Andy Reid's future Super Bowl access may have to geaux through Cincinnati in the very very not too distant future....
Burrow hasn't just gone legit...he's gone to the "never gonna quit" level at this point.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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