Tue, 26 Jan 2021

Clifton Brown

Cincinnati Bengals: Injury to Joe Burrow Rocks Season

Playing the rest of the season without Joe Burrow is not a development the Cincinnati Bengals wanted to think about. However, the severity of the rookie quarterback's knee injury looked obvious before he was carted off the field Sunday against Washington. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that a pending MRI is expected to confirm that Burrow is done for the year.

On social media after the injury, Burrow also indicated that he won't be back until next year.

Burrow's injury occurred when his knee was bent awkwardly while being sandwiched by two Washington pass rushers, who collided with Burrow a split second after he released a pass. Burrow absorbed plenty of punishment this season while being sacked 32 times, more than any quarterback in the AFC.

Following Sunday's 20-9 loss to Washington, Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor defended the decision to start the No. 1 pick in the draft from Day 1 behind an offensive line that has issues.

"We gave up a lot of pressure early in the season," Taylor said via the team's website. "These last couple of weeks our guys have done a great job keeping people off Joe. He's had a great pocket. He did not have a sack in the first half. People keep talking about the offensive line without seemingly watching the film the last four weeks. ... We're not going to apologize for anything."

Second-year quarterback Ryan Finley struggled after taking over for Burrow, completing just three of 10 passes for 30 yards while also throwing an interception. Finley and the Bengals' offense face an uphill battle the rest of the way, as they prepare to host the New York Giants on Sunday. After an offseason interrupted by COVID-19, Finley didn't see many practice reps in training camp once the decision was made to start Burrow.

"He didn't get as much as you'd normally get your No. 2 quarterback," Taylor said. "But you know what? It's where we're at right now. We've just got to handle the situation that's been dealt us and make the most of it."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Still Unbeaten, Pittsburgh's Attention Turns to Ravens

The Steelers remain the NFL's only unbeaten team (10-0), but are being closely pursued by the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) for best record in the AFC and a first-round bye. Even when they haven't played their best, the Steelers have been opportunistic enough to win.

They have the league's stingiest defense allowing just 17.4 points per game. They also lead the NFL in takeaways with 21, including a league-high 15 interceptions to go along with six fumble recoveries.

Defensive stars like linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick have made plays all season, but each week other Steelers are joining the party. On Sunday during a 27-3 victory, the Steelers' defense pummeled the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh safety Terrell Edmunds had two of Pittsburgh's four interceptions.

"We're getting turnovers," Head Coach Mike Tomlin said via PittsburghSteelers.com. "I think the catalyst for it all is the guys are playing extremely hard and fast. I think that creates the frenzy that provides the wave that we ride."

The Ravens know all about the Steelers' ability to force turnovers. During a 28-24 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles, costly errors that changed the complexion of the game. Baltimore will get another chance to pin a loss on Pittsburgh Thursday night, and Tomlin sounded eager for the next chapter in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry.

"We are back in the AFC North, in the hot kitchen on Thursday night and we are honored to do that, to entertain on that special day and be a part of that," Tomlin said. "We don't take that for granted. We have some work ahead of us.

"Nothing is perfect about us except our record. We want to wear it the proper way. We want to step into stadiums and be prepared to fight and compete every week and understand that we are going to get people's best shot."

Cleveland Browns: Even Minus Garrett, Browns Defense Looks Formidable

On Monday, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski announced that star defensive end Myles Garrett will be out at least another week. He won't play Week 12 when the Browns visit Jacksonville.

Even without Garrett (Reserve/COVID-19), Cleveland held its opponent to fewer than 20 points for the third consecutive game during a 22-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns have been looking for a consistent identity for years, and they're establishing one with their defense.

Against Philadelphia, the Browns got a pick-six from linebacker Sione Takitaki and a sack for a safety by defensive end Olivier Vernon. Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Elliott forced a fumble and defensive end Adrian Clayborn had 1.5 sacks.

The Browns have plenty of offensive players who command media attention like Baker Mayfield and injured wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. But the 2020 Browns are developing a lunch pail mentality, willing to do what it takes to win even if it doesn't look pretty.

"There's no such thing as an ugly win," Stefanski said after Sunday's game. "That was a beautiful win."

The Browns (7-3) are in sole possession of second place in the division and have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

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