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Joe Burrow shoulders blame for loss to Steelers

It was a rough game for Burrow, but how much blame should he get?

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Former Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints coach Bum Phillips knew what it takes to be a leader:

“You fail all the time, but you aren’t a failure until you start blaming someone else.”

No one will ever accuse Cincinnati Bengals quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of being a failure.

Burrow, after completing 16/25 passes for 189 yards in the first half, suffered through a miserable second half when he completed just 5/15 passes for 34 yards. And he put that loss squarely on his own shoulders.

“We knew we had a chance in that game if I play better,” Burrow told the Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith after his Bengals got thrashed by the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-10 Sunday.

“You hear me talk and I’m not too down in the dumps,” Burrow continued, “because I don’t play like that very often.”

Certainly, Burrow needed a much better performance if he hoped to lead Cincinnati back from a 22-7 halftime deficit. But, given the way that Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to dissect a decimated Bengals’ secondary, even a perfect effort might not have been enough.

Injuries and Covid-19 protocols forced the Bengals to open with Tony Brown, who was making only his fourth NFL start and first for the Bengals after taking his only snap of the season against Tennessee two weeks ago, and William Jackson, III as the starting outside cornerbacks and Mackensie Alexander in the slot.

When Alexander went out with a concussion midway through the fist quarter, Cincinnati had to call on the last healthy cornerback on the roster, first-year player Jalen Davis. Davis was signed to the Bengals’ practice squad just three weeks ago after accumulating 60 snaps during stops in Miami and Arizona.

Roethlisberger, after a relatively slow start, carved up the Bengals’ secondary to the tune of 27 completions in 46 attempts for 333 yards and four touchdowns. And, although Cincinnati was able to put some pressure on Big Ben, it did not record a single sack.

In addition, the Bengals committed two costly turnovers in the first half that put them in a 12-0 hole before recording their initial first down of the game.

But forget all of that. And put the blame on the quarterback. Or so says Burrow.

“I missed throws. That’s all it came down to,” Burrow said in the locker room after the game. ”You’re not going to be able to win football games against a team like the Steelers as good as they are when your quarterback plays like I did in the second half.”

Just don’t expect it to happen again any time soon.

“I’m not going to suck like that very often,” he promised.