Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals had the luxury of facing the Baltimore Ravens without former MVP Lamar Jackson on Wild Card Weekend. That didn't make beating John Harbaugh's resilient side any easier, however.
When the dust settled, the Bengals beat the Ravens 24-17. Incredibly, Baltimore had all the momentum early in the fourth quarter before Sam Hubbard -- thanks to a heads-up play from Logan Wilson -- returned a Tyler Huntley fumble at the goal line 98 yards to the house to put Cincinnati back in front.
In a vacuum, it was this play that won the game for the Bengals. That said, Joe Burrow and the offense did their part in the first three quarters.
Playing against an elite defense, Burrow performed well. If you look back at the 2022 regular season, Baltimore's D – arguably the best in the NFL over the last two months -- had given Burrow real fits in the team's two meetings this year.
Back in Week 5, Burrow struggled to the tune of 24-of-35 for 217 yards and a touchdown and interception apiece. He finished with a 31.8 QBR and the Bengals lost 19-17. In the Week 18 victory, Burrow went 25-of-42 for 215 yards and one TD, equating to an uncharacteristic 23.4 QBR.
Again, not the efficiency or production you’d expect from a guy who will likely finish top-five (if not higher) in MVP voting. Sunday night was a struggle to score points, but Burrow enjoyed an efficient game under center.
What grade does Joe Burrow deserve from the Bengals Wild Card win vs the Ravens?
The Bengals' passing game didn't pose much of a threat downfield (a testament to Baltimore's defense and pass rush), but Burrow was deadly efficient throwing underneath. He took what the defense gave him, and didn't force anything that wasn't there. That part is extremely important given the current version of the Ravens' offense struggles to sustain long drives (why make it any easier them?).
As always, Burrow was fearless in the face of pressure. The Ravens had no trouble generating pressure early in the game, and the QB still delivered. On the first drive alone, he was hit in the pocket three (!) times and Cincy still managed a field goal out of it. In the first half alone, Baltimore got home three times for losses of two, nine and six, respectively.
Trailing 10-9 in the third quarter, Burrow had a crucial scramble on 3rd and inches. A sack appeared inevtiable, but Burrow navigated the pressure and moved the chains. That drive ended with a QB sneak touchdown and a perfectly-executed two-point conversion to put the Bengals back up seven.
Here's a look at Burrow's nifty scramble.
Though under duress for much of the game, Burrow was still nails. The second half was a struggle relative to the first, but a stat line of 23-of-32 for 209 yards and two total TDs (99.6 passer rating) against that Ravens defense is nothing to sneeze at.
At the end of the day, Burrow is deserving of a B+ for his performance grade. What matters it the Bengals are moving on to play the Bills.
What grade would you give Burrow?