There’s a story told, down the bayou, ‘bout the ghost of the Bayou Bengals.
‘Bout how two gens nomed Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase helped carry a team to the heights of college football.
Well, eux-autres gen, now teammates with the Cincinnati Bengals, were back in town Sunday afternoon, and the magic was still there.
“It was crazy knowing that I was back home,” Chase said after the game. “The crowd was crazy. The fans were crazy. New Orleans fans and Bengals fans were both excited to see both teams. It was an unbelievable experience.”
It was an experience that was made all the more unbelievable after Chase caught a short pass from Burrow, spun out of a tackle by Tyrann Mathieu, turned on the jets and outran safety Smoke Monday for a 60-yard touchdown reception that spelled the difference in the Bengals’ 30-26 win.
“That was an unbelievable play by him,” Burrow said of his old LSU running mate. “When the going gets tough, I’m going to try to find that guy, and he’s going to make plays for us……I’m never surprised by that guy.”
And there was no question in Burrow’s mind from the outset that Chase was the guy he was looking for, just as he did early and often in the 2019-20 CFP National Championship win over Clemson when the duo hooked up for nine completions, 221 yards and two touchdowns.
”When I saw the look, I knew that I was going there,” Burrow said. “They (the Saints) are a good defense, a really good defense. They made it tough on us all day. We get a play down the stretch to get the win.”
That Saints defense stymied Cincinnati’s offense for most of the first half, holding Burrow to 126 yards passing and a touchdown as New Orleans went into the locker room with a 20-14 lead. The Bengals had all of 164 yards of total offense in the first half. Chase had just two receptions on five targets for 16 yards.
Cincinnati staked New Orleans to a 23-14 lead midway through the third quarter before finally getting it together. The Bengals went touchdown, field goal, touchdown on their next three possessions, and Chase was a big part of that.
Last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year finished with seven receptions on 10 targets for 132 yards and two scores, including the game clincher. It proved to be Chase’s best numbers of the year in his first time back in the stadium he once called home, and the meaning wasn’t lost on him.
“It means a lot actually, just knowing that I’ve got the advantage on beating New Orleans,” Chase said. “I come back home after the season and (can) talk a little trash. That’s good. I know my family, they all love the Saints. It’s good for me to come back home and rub it in their face a little bit.”
Burrow, for one, knew just how much this game meant to Chase. So much so that he showed up at Caesars Superdome wearing Chase’s National Championship game jersey.
”I wanted to pay tribute to the people of Louisiana,” Burrow explained. “What better way to do it than with the jersey that Ja’Marr wore in the national title game?”
The gesture was not lost on Chase.
“It was crazy when he asked me for it because I really didn’t know what he was going to do,” Chase said. “Then, when I saw him with it on, it was kind of cool showing him repping me while I was in my hometown.”
And the legend continues.