When linebacker Vontaze Burfict suffered an ankle sprain during Friday's practice and was listed as questionable heading into the team's week 13 game against the San Diego Chargers, the fragile state of our confidence was shaken.
Cincinnati was hanging in there with a defense playing great but losing their best players. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall are already gone. Now Vontaze Burfict, who was boarding the plane on Friday with a protective boot, was dealing with a sprained ankle. This defense can't keep losing their best players.
Pregame warm-ups weren't particularly convincing. Coley Harvey with ESPN wrote that Burfict seemed to be favoring his ankle a "fair amount." Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer added that he "didn't look good". Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wasn't sure about Burfict's status either. Paul Dehner with the Cincinnati Enquirer writes:
Marvin Lewis asked Burfict how he felt following warmups Sunday. According to the 23-year-old linebacker, he could sense Lewis’ doubt.
"He was second-guessing himself," Burfict recounted. "I said, ‘Just trust me.’ "
Lewis did. And as has been the case since Burfict stepped foot in Cincinnati, he made his coach look like a genius.
"The injury was bad, but I think he’s just got special powers and he used them all today," Lewis said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Most people wouldn't have been able to play today. There’s no doubt in my mind, most people wouldn't have been able to play."