Back in Week 7, we saw Burrow pick the Baltimore defense apart for 416 yards and three touchdowns in a win that at the time, felt like a measuring stick game as the young Bengals went head-to-head with the Ravens, who have had the Bengals’ number since Lamar Jackson arrived.
Fast-forward to Week 16, and it was clear No. 9 wasn’t done with them yet. Zac Taylor heard the fans screaming, “Let Joe cook” and kept the ball in Burrow’s hands from the start of the game, all the way to the finish (drawing some criticism along the way).
Facing a Baltimore team dealing with the injury bug and a number of defensive players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, it was a prime opportunity for the offensive unit to put together the complete game that has seemed to evade them in recent weeks.
Burrow and the Bengals had some added motivation for this one after Ravens defensive coordinator made an unnecessary comment when speaking on not double/triple teaming Ja’Marr Chase like he did Packers star Davante Adams.
“Adams is one of the top two receivers in the league, and he’s not No. 2. Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Fame QB, and I don’t think we’re ready to buy a gold jacket for Joe (Burrow),” Martindale said this week.
Spoiler: The Ravens did double and even triple-team Chase at times in this game, but that didn’t keep Burrow for having a performance that, while it’s still just Year 2, will likely end up being one of the best games he has in what hopes to be a long and memorable career.
And Burrow made it pretty clear that Martindale’s comments provided an extra spark.
Joe Burrow said he didn't think the "gold jacket" comment by Wink Martindale this week was "necessary."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) December 26, 2021
Was he thinking about that at the end racking up 525?
The accompanying smile suggests there was no maybe about it.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for Bengal fans to see is Burrow continuing to look more comfortable on his surgically repaired left knee. The first snap of the game saw Burrow absorb a hit, shake it off and show great mobility to keep the play alive.
Adding in a few more nice scrambles and runs to pick up first downs is a welcome sight. Burrow, admittedly said he isn’t confident he was able to make those plays early in the year.
A monster day from Tee Higgins helped get Burrow in a rhythm, and he never looked back. Higgins’ second have surge continued as he torched the banged up secondary for 12 receptions, 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Showing flashes of prime A.J. Green, Higgins has seemed to become Burrow’s safety blanket down field. Late in the second half with Cincinnati facing a 3rd and 16, Higgins went up over two defenders to set the Bengals up inside the Baltimore 5-yard line:
Tee Higgins is a magician!pic.twitter.com/Ni24P0K5Rd— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 26, 2021
Tyler Boyd kept himself in the action with another deep touchdown score, bringing one in from 68 yards out. Ja’Marr Chase was able to get back into the 100 yard game club, although he didn’t find his way into the end zone. Running back Joe Mixon hauled in a touchdown grab as well.
Burrow finished the day with multiple completions to seven different receivers on his way to the Bengals single-game record for passing yards with 525, also the fourth-most passing yards in a single game in NFL history,
While some fans questioned Burrow still dropping back and throwing with a 20-point lead late into the game, the rumblings started on Twitter of it being somewhat personal. While we don’t know and nobody from the locker room is likely to admit it, some wonder if Burrow and the Bengals set out to set the record specifically against Baltimore.
Much was made about Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson making the Pro Bowl over Burrow. Did the Bengals take the shot because of that? We may never know, but you can rest assured that John Harbaugh won’t soon forget.
“Joey Franchise” moves to 3-1 against Baltimore in his career, with an impressive stat line on the 2021 season to go with it:
Joe Burrow's combined passing numbers against Baltimore this season:— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 26, 2021
58-of-87 passing, 941 passing yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT.