Maybe it’s not time to start calling him Prime Time just yet, but he’s definitely heading in the right direction.
After going 2-7-1 in his first 10 prime time games, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has rebounded to win 12 of his next 20. But Thursday night’s 27-15 win over the previously undefeated Miami Dolphins may just have been his biggest one yet.
And Burrow gives a lot of the credit for this latest victory to the improved play of his offensive line, which has been the object of intense criticism through the first three weeks of the season.
“Man, it was unbelievable today,” Burrow said after the game. “I told them, today’s the most time I’ve had in the pocket since I’ve been in the league.
“It was unbelievable tonight. They played almost a perfect game, and they’re just gonna keep getting better and better for me.”
After surrendering 13 sacks in the first two weeks of the year, the offensive line surrendered two sacks against the Jets on Sunday, and just one sack Thursday night. As a result, Burrow was able to put up his best numbers of the young season, completing 20 of 31 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He tossed four interceptions in the season-opening loss to the Steelers, but has now gone three straight games without a pick.
Of course, it helps that he also has one of the best receiving corps in the league with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and tight end Hayden Hurst.
“Tee had a big game, went out and won on just about every route he ran,” Burrow said. “And Ja’Marr sealed the deal at the end, which is what he does when the game is on the line.”
Cincinnati’s offense started slowly in its losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas, but has been coming around these last two games. The Bengals scored touchdowns on their first two possessions against the Jets, and took the opening kickoff 75 yards in nine plays for a score against the Dolphins.
“We’re hitting our stride in the pass game and the running game is getting better and better,” Burrow explained. “There was no panic. We knew we had to come out and win these next two games and that’s just what we did.”
While the offense has been trying to find its groove, the defense has been playing like the elite unit it has become. After surrendering touchdowns to the Cowboys on their first two drives in the game two loss, the defense had kept the offense out of the end zone for virtually nine straight quarters until Miami scored with only nine seconds left in the first half.
“We kind of leaned on them the first two weeks until we got going,” Burrow said. “And that’s what great teams do. They lean on each other . . . .
“Now we’re starting to come together as one. Offense is playing better, defense is still playing great. So we’re just gonna keep getting better.”