The Cincinnati Bengals laid the smackdown on the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, 41-21. The Bengals moved into sole place atop the AFC North, a game ahead of Baltimore. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase took to TikTok to talk some smack and add fuel to the rivalry.
I told y’all that this was the Bengals super bowl pic.twitter.com/nu5WrRtmOY
— 𝙟𝙚𝙛𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙮🦦🌴 (@LamarGOATEra) December 27, 2021
In the week leading up to the game, Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale didn’t seem to be overly concerned about quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense. When asked if he planned to use the same coverage on Burrow and Chase that they used on the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Martindale responded:
“I don’t think we’re ready to buy a gold jacket for Joe yet.”
The obvious implication is that Rodgers, a three-time league MVP, multiple All-Pro and Super Bowl champ, is on a different level that the second-year QB from LSU.
Well, we’ve all seen that Michael Jordan meme from the “Last Dance” documentary.
Apparently Burrow took it personally.
Joe Burrow was playing with a chip on his shoulder 👀 pic.twitter.com/e9eE6FQSsc
— PFF (@PFF) December 26, 2021
This is the world of pro sports and any slight, real or imagined, is all these guys need to heighten their focus and provide the laser-sharp intensity needed to excel. Kudos to Burrow, who had a monster game with 525 yards passing and four touchdowns.
The AFC North looks like it will be a two-team race for the foreseeable future, and we have many battles to look forward to between the Bengals and Ravens. They have the two best quarterbacks in the division with Burrow and former MVP Lamar Jackson, who missed Sunday’s game with an injury.
We should anticipate a lot of highlights, trash talk, and all the elements we love from two teams with star signal callers. This is the future of the league at QB, along with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert, and Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray.
You have to love the rookie Chase, who also had an excellent game, sticking up for his guy Burrow. They were college teammates at LSU and won a national title and hope to one day hoist the Lombardi trophy as teammates in the NFL.
But they are a long way from that, and sustained success in the NFL is no easy feat.
Maybe Martindale will come up with a better game plan for how to slow down Burrow and the Bengals in the future. It would help if he had a healthy secondary, but injuries are part of the game.
He was right not to praise Burrow with the same reverence as Rodgers. You have to earn that. Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Maybe Burrow will get there one day, but it’s still early.
Burrow looks like he’s on a trajectory that suggests greatness. While his counting stats are impressive, sixth in yards and seventh in touchdown passes, he’s about middle of the pack according to all the advanced metrics.
Burrow is 18th in DVOA at -1.7% which is below average, 15th in VOA which isn’t adjusted for the opponent, and 16th in DYAR. Not the be all, end all. But Rodgers is second, first and first respectively in the same categories.
Burrow is free to use whatever motivation he likes to get the desired result, but let’s not act like Martindale was out of bounds or disrespectful.
Regardless, NFL fans everywhere would love 10 years of this rivalry!
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