CINCINNATI — Bengals coach Zac Taylor didn’t hesitate when asked if quarterback Joe Burrow should compete for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.
“Absolutely,” Taylor said.
Burrow added to his growing list of credentials in a 27-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Burrow became the first quarterback to defeat fellow KC Patrick Mahomes in three straight games. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady is the only other quarterback to have this many wins over 2018 MVP Mahomes.
Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase firmly agreed with his coach on Burrow’s MVP candidacy.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks in this league,” Chase said. “Everyone knows that. He should be in the MVP race. If he’s not in it, he should be. Number one quarterback in the race.”
Burrow was 25 of 31 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday.
Cincinnati (8-4) went into the fourth quarter with a touchdown behind Kansas City (9-3) before things turned in the Bengals’ favor. After linebacker Germaine Pratt ripped Kansas City the ball out of Travis Kelce’s grip and recovered the fumble, Burrow and the offense got to work.
With the Bengals trailing 24-20 at that point, Cincinnati went on a 10-play drive that was topped by an 8-yard touchdown pass by Burrow to running back Chris Evans. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that was Burrow’s ninth fourth-quarter passing score, the highest of any quarterback in the NFL this season.
Taylor was quick to praise Burrow’s pass protection on Sunday. Burrow was unpressured on 27 of his pass attempts and fired only once, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
But the third-year player proved slippery throughout the day. He had a career-high 11 carries for 46 yards and one rushing touchdown. He now has five rushing touchdowns, equaling Jack Thompson’s 1979 record for most Bengals quarterbacks in a single season.
“He’s a great size and elusive,” said Kansas City defender Frank Clark. “People don’t really respect his name in terms of how heavy he is in his pocket and his pocket presence.”
Taylor, the team’s playcaller, put the ball in Burrows’ hands to seal the game and end Kansas City’s streak of 14 straight wins in December, a stretch that dates back to Mahomes’ first year as a starter in 2018.
On the third and eleventh, Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins said he and Tyler Boyd thought Cincinnati would run the ball to chew a clock. Higgins said the receivers looked at Burrow in the group and asked him a simple question: run or pass?
“He said, ‘Pass,'” Higgins said. “We all looked at each other. He said, ‘Let’s do it.'”
Burrow and the Bengals did just that. He found Higgins for a 14-yard completion that effectively ended the game.
Both of Cincinnati’s wins over Kansas City last season came from winning field goals after time was up. Against the previous top team of the AFC in 2022, the lead was larger.
Burrow shrugged off Taylor and his teammates’ MVP discussion.
“I don’t play the game for those kinds of awards,” Burrow said. “I play the game for the boys in the dressing room. I will do whatever it takes me to do every Sunday. If I lose the ball 72 times and come away with a win, I’m happy.”
Burrow ranked third in the NFL in fourth-quarter QBR Sunday, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
When Cincinnati needed big games against one of the NFL’s best teams and quarterbacks, Burrow delivered.
“He’s playing at the level that we need to lead us and feel confident that we can win every game that we play,” Taylor said, adding that there was no doubt about Burrow’s place in the MVP talk are. “I’ve said it before. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the world.”
ESPN’s Adam Teicher contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35185664/bengals-tout-joe-burrow-win-patrick-mahomes-chiefs Bengals tout Joe Burrow after win over Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs