CLEVELAND – There were a lot of top-notch quarterbacks coming through FirstEnergy Stadium, cutting a Browns defense, converting key thirds down and coming out with a win.
Too many Browns fans will tell you before listing them, some with specific dates of their personal nightmares.
Joe Burrow almost became the last to sign up on that list Thursday night, and he looks like he has a very good chance of doing so for years to come. Burrow became the first rookie to pitch more than 60 times in a game and not log an interception since at least 1
The other quarterback on the pitch was certainly impressed.
“I didn’t get a chance to see him last week, but I’ve heard the rave reviews. I could tell,” said quarterback Browns Baker Mayfield. “True, the hype is real with Joe. I thought he played very well. Just being firm, keeping plays extended, taking care of the ball. I thought he did a great job.
“It’s always nice to see another guy come in and take over. And obviously that team loves him. They follow him and he leads them.”
Burrow went back to pass 64 times and was put under pressure on 32.8% of those drops, producing three bags and a lost fumble. However, he could have been fired much more often, had he not had the ability to escape and extend the game or make timely passes before the rush came.
In the middle of the collapsing pocket, Burrow stood all night, identifying the open man and connecting with him. Cincinnati converted eight of 18 third down attempts and was a perfect 5 for 5 to fourth down, a wonderful result in and of itself for a novice passer.
“I thought he did a good job,” Bengals manager Zac Taylor later said. “He gave us a chance. We just ran short.”
The Cleveland defense appears to feature the 2019 league leader in quarterback pressure rate, among other things, in Myles Garrett, who forced the fumble and was responsible for nine of 21 pressures on Thursday night. However, Burrow never seemed upset, struggling to the end despite the game being nearly out of range, connecting with Tyler Boyd on a landing pass in the final two minutes of the game.
“Losing isn’t much fun. This may be the only time in my sporting career I’ve lost two games in a row,” Burrow said. “I’m not feeling very well. I know the guys in there are sick and we’ll go back to work tomorrow and we’ll try to make things right. Losing is unacceptable for me, for everyone there, to coach Taylor, for everyone in this organization. So, we have to just get it fixed. “
Burrow’s desire to win is palpable from the press box. All too often, a first-round quarterback takes the field for his prime time debut and is exhausted from a formidable pass run, which Cleveland owns, and melts for the nation. The Browns have been very successful in defensive stunts and twists throughout the night, with Porter Gustin having a pretty good hit on Burrow after he was already stripped by Garrett. But none of that seemed to affect him as much as his second defeat in as many pro games.
Things are just starting for Burrow; he has so much of his promising career ahead of him. And as he demonstrated on Thursday night, it’s going to be really fun to watch, as long as Cincinnati doesn’t subject it to the same fate as promising passersby of the past.