Joe Burrow’s confidence continues to reign supreme even in the toughest situations on the grill.
In Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs, down 21-3 midway through the second quarter, his demeanor never wavered.
Burrow and the Bengals would go on to beat the Chiefs’ electrifying offense 24-3 over the next two quarters and overtime, qualifying for their first Super Bowl since 1989.
“We’ve been a second-half team all year,” Burrow told CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz after the game. “We don’t really want to be like that, but that’s kind of how it went. Our defense really got stronger in the second half, and in attack we made plays when we wanted to. We had to. Our offensive line played really well; we started running the ball. Just a great team effort overall.
The LSU tandem of Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase was held in check most of the night, connecting on six receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. Burrow finished the night 23 of 38 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, lifting this team when they needed him most in every way imaginable.
During the first half, it looked like the Chiefs were going to run away with this one, dominating every facet of the game and steadily applying pressure on Burrow in the backfield. In-game adjustments from head coach Zac Taylor and his Bengals team gave momentum to this offense to pick up the pace while the defense constantly went after Mahomes in the pocket.
“Our defense really got stronger and made plays in the second half,” Burrow said. “And on offense we made plays when we had to. I think the offensive line played very well all day. We started running the ball at the end and it’s exciting.
Having a signalman of Burrow’s caliber also helps their case. Possessing the this A factor and never shaken by the toughest of situations, this team feels at home no matter what the scoreboard says.
What Burrow accomplished in Year 2 rewrote the record books. Becoming the first No. 1 pick in NFL history to start a Super Bowl in his first two seasons, he took the next step to solidifying himself as the NFL’s best quarterback.
“I wouldn’t say it’s surreal, I would say it’s exciting,” Burrow said after the Bengals AFC Championship Game victory. “I think if you had told me before the season that we were going to the Super Bowl, I probably would have called you crazy. Then, you know, we play all season and nothing surprises me now.
Giving his team a boost and staying balanced is what makes Burrow so special. In the basket practice that would put Cincinnati in the lead 24-21, Burrow had two scrambles to keep the practice alive, putting his team in position to win.
It’s just who Burrow is and has been his entire career. When the lights are brightest and a piece needs to be performed, it arrives as cool as the other side of the pillow. He fought for moments like this his entire career.
Being buried on the Ohio State depth board, being traded for a college opportunity and having his rookie season cut short due to a devastating knee injury is what made him become the player he is today.
After winning just two of his 10 games as a starter in his rookie year, overcoming adversity to reach the top of the mountain is what shaped the sophomore gunslinger. Now he has the chance to bring a Super Bowl to his home country and let the world know it’s the new normal in Cincinnati.
“It’s something I’m really proud of, to be from Ohio, to be a Bengals quarterback,” Burrow said. “[Cincinnati is] two and a half hours from my home town. It’s something I’ve always wanted to play in the Super Bowl, and I’m doing it with a great group of guys.”