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C.J. Uzomah’s special season has lifted resurgent Bengals

A big reason for the Bengals’ breakout season has been thanks to Uzomah having a career year.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
C.J. Uzomah
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Something old, something new. Something Burrow(ed), something blue.

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah is one of a handful of crafty veterans in the Cincinnati locker room. Uzomah was drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and he’s been quietly making a name for himself.

Rookie Ja’Marr Chase is one of Cincinnati’s new generation of play-makers who have helped transformed the Bengals into a team that is starting to earn respect around the league.

“It’s the start of something new, something good,” Uzomah said after Cincinnati’s 41-17 shellacking of the Baltimore Ravens Sunday afternoon.

“We are trying to establish who we are as a team and put the league on notice that this isn’t the Bengals of the past. This is the 2021 Bengals, and the past is the past.”

And it all starts with second-year quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy-winning gunslinger from LSU. Burrow had his finest game as a pro against the Ravens Sunday after completing 23/38 passes for 416 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He finished with a passer rating of 113.5.

Something blue? How about the Baltimore Ravens (OK, so their team colors are purple, but you get the idea), and the four other teams the Bengals have put away so far this year?

Oh, and by the way, Sunday just happened to be National Tight Ends Day.

“That’s all I heard about,” Burrow said.

For good reason. Uzomah caught touchdown passes of 55 and 32 yards on the day, and now has five on the season. He has scored six touchdowns in the nine games he has played with Burrow.

“I had to make something happen,” Uzomah said.

Uzomah finished with three catches for 91 yards against the Ravens, and is on pace for 622 yards and 12 touchdowns, both of which would be career highs. And it’s not even close.

Prior to this year, Uzomah’s best season came in 2018, when he caught 64 passes for 439 yards and three scores. But with Burrow under center, Uzomah is playing like a new man.

“We just had a ton of confidence in him,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “He’s found his spot. Joe has a lot of confidence in him, and he always makes plays when his number is called. He broke a bunch of tackles on both of his touchdowns. So, it was good to see C.J. do that.”

Cincinnati travels to the Meadowlands this Sunday to take on the one-win New York Jets. But don’t expect any type of letdown from a Bengals team that is finally starting to find its mojo.

“This year is unique for me,” Uzomah said. “It’s the start of something which we have been working on since [organized team activities]. It’s something Coach Taylor has been trying to implement since he’s gotten here. Now, we’re just out there making plays and having fun. On the sideline, I was a little emotional as to how connected we were. You see everyone juiced for every single play out there. That’s what it is all about. It’s the start of something new, something good.”