CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow wasn’t yet fully healthy Monday night when he took the field to lead the Bengals to a victory over the Rams.
And he acknowledged it himself after the game.
“I didn’t have any relapse. Basically that’s the important criterion for me,” said the Pro Bowl quarterback.
Burrow, who is trying to overcome a nagging calf injury, had to adapt. He didn’t seek contact or move around as much in the pocket.
A series of quick, short passes allowed him to get rid of Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles players who specialized in rushing the quarterback. Some passes that he usually makes were wrong.
“I was quite cautious,” he admitted. “I was quick to throw the ball, but we were able to get the job done.”
The Bengals wondered if Burrow, slowed by injury, is still better than any of the other healthy quarterbacks on the roster.
Coach Zac Taylor put his trust in Burrow, who received help from Cincinnati’s defense, which was magnificent on a night when it was needed most.
Burrow did enough to outlast the Rams 19-16. However, the question remains whether he can win games going forward without a long layoff or rehabilitation process for the right calf muscle that he pulled in late July during training camp.
“You never completely know,” Taylor said. “She just wants honest answers from him, which is something he gave us. You talk to the doctors and they all get on the same page, and he goes out and brings that type of performance.”
The 26-year-old quarterback, the league’s highest-paid player at about $55 million a year, said the prospect of Cincinnati falling to 0-3 was enough to take the risk Monday night.
Another defeat would have complicated the mission of advancing to the playoffs.
“There is a risk of going out there and re-injuring yourself. But there was also the risk of going out there and being 0-3,” she commented.
The defense. Cincinnati battered the Rams’ offensive line, sacking Matthew Stafford six times. Linebacker Logan Wilson intercepted two passes, and the defense held Los Angeles to three field goals for much of the game. The Rams finally scored a touchdown with just over a minute left. They went 1 for 11 on third down and punted six times.
Burrow needs to continue healing. He improved as the game went on, and began to throw longer passes. But he needs to be at his best to take more risks and throw when he’s running at times when original plays don’t pan out. He completed 26 of 49 passes for a season-high 259 yards and had a pass intercepted for the second straight game. Three false start penalties, amid a total of seven Cincinnati infractions, killed offensive drives.
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