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Joe Burrow becoming a threat on the ground

Burrow is learning to make teams respect the run more.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions
Joe Burrow
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Move over Lamar Jackson. There’s a new kid on the block.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow may never be known for his running ability the way that Jackson is, but he showed just enough of his legs Sunday to make a difference.

Burrow ran the ball just five times for 20 yards against the Lions, but it made a difference. His first run came on a 1-yard dive up the middle on the Bengals’ opening drive of the game. He also had a 3-yard scramble later in the drive, in which he ran out of bounds. The drive ended with a 24-yard touchdown strike to Chris Evans.

After getting hit in the throat when he dove for what he thought would be a first down last week against the Packers, Burrow was a little more careful this time around.

“I just need to be smarter in those situations about protecting myself,” he said in his press conference after the game. “I think I did a good job of doing that, running out of bounds, sliding when I could. It’s just me growing as a player.”

His next run, a 3-yard scramble that also ended up out of bounds, came during the next drive, which featured a couple of penalties and ultimately an interception. Penalties and a sack stopped the next two drives in their tracks.

“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the first half with silly penalties,” head coach Zac Taylor said.

Burrow had a 6-yard scramble up the middle toward the end of the first half in which he actually tried to slide, although it turned into more of a stumble. The result of that drive was a field goal.

His final scramble came on the opening drive of the third quarter and was good for five yards and a first down. The result of this drive? A swing pass to Joe Mixon that went for 40 yards and a touchdown.

The final tally was five runs that contributed to two first downs and 17 points. It wasn’t the fact that the runs themselves were so devastating. They were not. But they did force the Lions to respect that part of Burrow’s game and slowed down the rush just a little bit. Detroit sacked Burrow early in the second quarter, and didn’t get to him again until early in the fourth quarter.

Burrow finished with 19 completions in 29 attempts for 271 yards, and matched his career high in touchdowns with three. Mixon finished with 94 yards on 18 carries (an average of 5.2 yards per carry) and caught five passes for 59 yards and a score. Ja’Marr Chase caught four passes for 97 yards, an average of 24.3 yards per reception.

“The offense did a good job, especially in the second half,” Cincinnati left tackle Jonah Williams said. “It was important for us to sink the dagger. We know we have the talent. I think we could have played a lot smoother, but we still put up the numbers.”

And Burrow gave opposing defenses something else to think about.