Burrow made the most of whoever was around him and turned in another key performance that shows why the No. 1 overall draft pick is teeming with potential. Burrow turned in the best game of his debut season in a dramatic 37-34 loss to the Browns.
With three offensive starters sidelined with injury, Burrow was still able to post a career-high 406 yards on 35-of-46 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. Burrow has five 300-yard passing games, one shy of the NFL record set by former Colts QB Andrew Luck in 2012. Burrow also had a rushing touchdown in the Bengals' third straight defeat.
Entering the game, the Bengals (1-5-1) were without injured running back Joe Mixon (foot). Left tackle Jonah Williams (neck), center Trey Hopkins (concussion) and right tackle Bobby Hart (undisclosed) also went down during Sunday's game.
That didn't stop Burrow from nearly pulling off the first comeback win of his career. On fourth-and-1, Burrow found running back Giovani Bernard for a 3-yard touchdown pass and a 34-31 lead with 1:06 remaining.
But the Bengals were unable to stop the Browns and quarterback Baker Mayfield, who set a franchise record with 21 straight completions. The only thing that stopped that streak was a spike.
“It’s what I expect of myself," Burrow said of the Bengals' late scoring drive. "It’s exciting, but I expect myself to do that every week. I want the ball in my hand at the end of the game. I’m comfortable, and I’m confident I’m going to down and make a play to win. Unfortunately Baker was playing out of his mind and led that two-minute drive after it.”
Even though the Bengals failed to pick up the victory, Sunday was another reminder that Cincinnati has its quarterback of the future.
QB breakdown: It's hard to believe Burrow is a rookie. The 23-year-old made quick decisions and was accurate all afternoon. And he showed the resolve needed to do everything he could to pick up a victory. It wasn't just the poise he showed in the fourth quarter as he put the Bengals ahead 34-31 with 66 seconds left. He also had a big run on third-and-11 to keep that drive alive.
Biggest hole in the game plan: It's not that Cincinnati couldn't defend the pass despite Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffering a knee injury in the first quarter that ruled him out for the rest of the game. Cleveland's tight ends feasted throughout the day, a problem that has plagued the Bengals all season. Browns rookie Harrison Bryant had two touchdown catches and David Njoku added another. Stopping opposing tight ends continues to be a major issue for the Bengals that needs to be solved -- quickly.
Silver lining: The Bengals' offense arguably had its best game under second-year coach Zac Taylor. The Bengals penetrated Cleveland's red zone on seven of its eight drives. Cincinnati couldn't get enough touchdowns off those possessions, but it's promising for a Bengals offense that has mostly struggled to move the ball consistently the past two seasons.
Eye-popping Next Gen Stat: Cincinnati failed to get consistent pressure against Mayfield. And even when the Bengals blitzed, it was to no avail. Mayfield was 6-of-8 passing for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception when blitzed, according to NFL Next Gen.