On Thursday evening, the Cincinnati Bengals paid their guy. Joe Burrow signed a five-year, $275 million deal, making him the highest-paid player in league history. Today, that guy was pulled from the Bengals' season-opening contest against division rival Cleveland Browns with four minutes to go in the game. Burrow threw for a career-low 82 yards on 14-of-31 passing with zero touchdowns and posted a quarterback rating of 52.2.
The Browns, who were one-point underdogs heading into the contest, soundly defeated the Bengals 24-3. Quarterback Deshaun Watson posted a pair of touchdowns in the matchup, one rushing touchdown in the second quarter and one passing touchdown in the fourth.
Based on his extension and performance in each of his first two NFL seasons, one of which resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl, fans and critics alike expected Burrow to be the better of the two quarterbacks in this matchup, even after his camp injury. Whether it was the pressure that got to Joe Cool or if it was the stellar performance put forth by early Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garrett, Burrow and the Bengals' high-powered offense did not look like its usual lethal self.
After a brutal sack by Garrett with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the first Battle of Ohio of the season, the Bengals were visibly shaken. One drive later, the Browns had extended their lead to three scores, and the NFL's highest-paid player found himself in an unfamiliar situation on the bench.
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Myles Garrett gets the sack on Joe Burrow on 4th down 😤
BIG TIME STOP ❌pic.twitter.com/Jr6X0n5rEV
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 10, 2023
Next week, Burrow and the Bengals head back to Cincinnati to host another divisional rival: the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, whose starting quarterback Lamar Jackson also held the title of highest-paid NFL player for a brief period this offseason, defeated their opponents (the Houston Texans) in Week 1 with ease.
Last season, the Bengals defeated the Ravens in the Wild Card round to put an end to the Ravens' season. The Ravens will likely be looking for revenge and smell blood. Will Burrow be able to realign this offense in time?