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Joe Burrow Continues Legendary Sophomore NFL Campaign With Trip to AFC Championship

Burrow becomes first QB to lead team to championship round in first two seasons

Joe Burrow continues to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to new heights, achieving feats the franchise has been unable to do for decades, this time willing his team to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1988. 

The LSU connection of Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase remains strong, with Chase snagging five receptions for 109 yards Saturday afternoon, all coming at crucial moments of the game.

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Bengals. With just no time in the pocket for plays to develop, Burrow made the most of the time he had, going 28-of-37 for 348 yards. Sacked for a whopping playoff record nine times, the consistent pressure didn’t waver the second-year quarterback who praised his defense for keeping them in the game.

“The defense played unbelievable and we made plays when we needed to on offense,” Burrow said. “It wasn’t always pretty. But we got the job done. Like I’ve said all year, we can win a lot of different ways. The defense came up strong today. Unbelievable.”

The inconsistency of the offensive line gave Burrow and his unit trouble to get into rhythm, but big plays down the stretch from Chase is what kept the Bengals in contention. With his 109 yards on five catches, Chase became the first rookie in NFL history to record multiple 100-plus yard receiving games in the playoffs. 

For much of the game, Chase was matched up against former LSU standout and high school teammate Kristian Fulton, who’s been a key piece to Tennessee’s secondary.

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The relationship between Chase and Fulton goes way back, but once the two touched the gridiron with the same mission in mind, it was a battle, with Chase having his way at times. Both products of Archbishop Rummel High School, it came full circle for the two Saturday afternoon.

Now, Chase and his Bengals are a win away from taking this franchise to the Super Bowl. There have been no answers for the Burrow-Chase connection where they continue to have their way in year one as teammates at the next level.

With some late-game heroics from rookie kicker Evan McPherson, who ultimately kicked the game-winning field goal to send his squad to the next round, the fight of this Bengals team continues to show out. Burrow detailed the swagger and calm demeanor McPherson attains, making him so effective already.

"We knew exactly what we had [in McPherson] as soon as he walked into the building in camp," said Burrow. "We just saw how he carried himself. ... Obviously, everyone at this level can kick through the uprights. But it's how you handle yourself in the locker room that shows us that you have the confidence to go out there and make a kick like this and perform the way he did in a game like this."

The culture change Burrow brings is what separates him from the rest. In only his second season as the Bengals signal caller, he’s brought this team from worst to first in two short years. Being the first quarterback to be drafted No. 1 overall and win a Divisional Round playoff game in his first two seasons, he continues to rewrite history. Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor knows this is the standard of this team with Burrow at the helm. It’s a Super Bowl or bust mentality. 

“It feels great,” Bengals Coach Zac Taylor said after Saturday’s victory. “This is the expectation for this team. This is not too big for these guys. I know we haven’t been here before. But it sure feels like we have.”

Now, their attention shifts to the winner of Kansas City and Buffalo today at 5:30 PM to see who they’ll be facing off against next weekend. The combination of Burrow and Chase lives another week, looking to keep this hot streak rolling. The former LSU standouts have the chance to continue breaking records and show the NFL this duo is here to stay.