There aren’t many quarterbacks that have started their career as Joe Burrow has through his first two games. Sure the Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2, but that’s not the fault of Burrow — not even close. Burrow had a historic game for the Bengals in his primetime debut, showcasing why he is the franchise quarterback and living up to the reputation of the No. 1 overall pick. Burrow finished 37 of 61 for 316 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions in the Bengals’ 35-30 defeat to the Cleveland Browns Thursday night, but that’s just the beginning of the historic night for the rookie quarterback.
Burrow became just the third rookie quarterback (since 1950) to attempt 60-plus passes in a game, joining Chris Weinke (2001) and Carson Wentz (2016). He’s the first rookie quarterback to throw 60-plus passes in September and the first rookie quarterback to attempt over 55 passes in a game since Sam Bradford in 2010.
And here’s the best part: Burrow became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw 60+ passes in a game and have zero interceptions and just the 10th quarterback ever to accomplish the feat — joining the likes of Ben Roethlisberger (who actually did it twice), Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. He’s just the fourth quarterback on the elite list to throw for three touchdowns.
Through his first two games, Burrow has completed 61.9% of his passes for 509 yards, three touchdowns, to just one interception. He also has 15 carries for 65 yards and a rushing touchdown. Burrow is just one of 11 quarterbacks in league history to throw for three touchdowns and rush for one touchdown in his first two career games, and the eighth quarterback to accomplish the feat since the merger.
This is all with no preseason, no offseason minicamp, and a limited training camp. However, all that matters to Burrow is the Bengals are winless.
“We lost, that’s the only thing that matters. Losing isn’t very fun,” Burrow said after the loss. “This may be the only time in my sporting career I’ve lost two games in a row. Guys in there are hurting, we’re going to come back tomorrow and try to get this thing right. Losing is unacceptable to me, to everybody in there, to everybody in this organization.”
Despite an offensive line that gave Burrow less than three seconds to throw and had the No. 1 overall pick under constant duress, Burrow was still able to line up in an empty-back set and complete passes to eight different receivers — five of which come on the first drive. The Bengals were 5-for-5 on fourth down thanks to the clutch play of Burrow and scored 30 points for the third time in the last four games.
Cincinnati needed 15 games to score 30 points for the first time in 2019, but they reached that number in just two games in 2020.
“I heard the rave reviews and you could tell it’s true. The hype is real with Joe,” said Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who led Cleveland to victory in the first matchup between the No. 1 overall picks.
The Bengals have a bright future ahead of them, even though the record doesn’t indicate as such. Burrow is living up to the hype that has surrounded him since he rewrote the record books at LSU last year. And now he is making his own mark in the NFL.
“I have great people around me,” Burrow said. “The offensive line did a hell of a job for me. My guys are making plays for me. That’s all you can ask for as a quarterback. We’ve been in scoring range, and that’s been one positive.
“Again, we’re 0-2. That’s all that matters. I’ll never accept losing. That’s just something that is not in my mindset.”