The first overall pick of the NFL draft showed promising signs in his professional debut last week against the Los Angeles Chargers and there were more flashes of brilliance on display at FirstEnergy Stadium as the two AFC North rivals collided for the first time this season.
Burrow completed 37 of his 61 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns for a 90.6 rating, adding 19 rushing yards over seven carries. According to NFL data, Burrow’s whopping 61 passes were the second-highest number of attempts for a rookie since former Carolina Panthers quarterback threw the ball 63 times in 2001 and the Bengals quarterback became the first rookie since 1950 to throw at least 60 passes without being intercepted.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, his 37 completions are the most in a game by a rookie in NFL history. Burrow arrived in the NFL on the back of a season in which he took college football by storm, steering LSU to a perfect 15-0 record and the national title and winning the Heisman Trophy by a landslide.
He became the first player in SEC history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the same season and setting a new school and conference record with 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns.
As he had done in the loss against the Chargers in Week 1, Burrow didn’t have any big plays through the air—he averaged 5.2 yards per attempt—but showed remarkable control of the offense, despite the lack of support from his teammates.
The Bengals offensive line again looked porous and Burrow was sacked three times, while Tyler Boyd squandered a touchdown opportunity after failing to hold onto a pass from the rookie quarterback.
Throughout training camp Burrow was praised being mature behind his years and his leadership qualities shone through again on Thursday night, when he made clear the Bengals had to swiftly turn their fortunes around.
“Losing isn’t very fun,” he said after the game.
“This might be the only time I’ve lost two games in a row. It doesn’t feel very good. […] Losing is unacceptable to me.”
Burrow’s performance on Thursday Night Football made a big impression on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, himself a former Heisman Trophy winner and the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
“The hype is real with Joe,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, that team loves him. They follow him and he leads them.”
Coming into Week 2 under pressure following a dismal performance in a 38-6 defeat on the road against Baltimore on Sunday, Mayfield and the Browns responded in style.
Mayfield finishes 16-of-23 for 219 yards, two touchdown passes and one interception. One of his two touchdowns was a 43-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr., which went some way to allay fears of a lack of chemistry between the duo.
Beckham finished four receptions and 74 yards over six targets, a major improvement from his three catches for 22 yards on 10 targets in Week 1.
It was the Browns rushing game, however, that made all the difference. Cleveland racked up 215 yards on the ground with Nick Chubb rushing for 124 yards—his sixth straight primetime with at least 100 yards from scrimmage—and Kareem Hunt adding a further 88 yards.
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