In wins against the Raiders and Steelers, Burrow had only moderate showings of 148 and 190 passing yards each game. He only threw one touchdown apiece, letting running back Joe Mixon carry the bulk of the workload.
Las Vegas and Pittsburgh seemed content giving the Bengals the running game, so Burrow and his team ran away to two crucial victories to bump them into the playoff picture.
Burrow told reporters in a recent presser:
"At the beginning of the year, we had a lot of big plays, a lot of big touchdowns, so then teams started to try to take that away. Now, Joe Mixon’s running for 150 yards a game. So you really have to pick your poison."
Wideout Ja’Marr Chase scored six touchdowns in his first seven games. In the last two weeks, he’s barely gotten on the stat sheet, so Burrow is spot on with that observation.
Joe Burrow has unshakeable confidence in this Cincinnati Bengals team in 2021
Not many teams can boast a fantastic wide receiver corps and a strong running back room, but Cincinnati somehow has both this season.
Chase, along with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, can make big plays that dramatically turn the tide of games.
Secondaries have started to focus more attention on Chase, so he’s not getting as many easy, open looks as before,
But then, Cincinnati can unleash Mixon.
"You gotta take what the defense gives you. Sometimes you’re not going to throw for 200 or 300 yards. You’re going to have to run for 160, 175 yards when teams allow that to happen."
For a second-year signal-caller to already have the keen ability of recognizing “what the defense gives you” points to Burrow’s rapid development and maturity so far.
He and his team know he can make those long, downfield passes, but unlike Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, Burrow isn’t going for the big play every time.
Burrow is smart enough to exploit defenses when they’re least suspecting it, and that could be the reason Cincinnati ends up grabbing that elusive postseason berth.
The Bengals have a supremely talented receiving group and one of the top rushing leaders in the league right now. Burrow can’t ask for much more.