How Joe Burrow, Bengals survived playoff-record nine sacks vs. Titans

Joe Burrow and the Bengals have orchestrated an unbelievable turnaround and narrative change within the 2021 season, going from a crew with the fifth-worst document within the NFL a 12 months in the past to a crew that can play for the AFC championship subsequent weekend.

One side hasn’t modified in Cincinnati, nonetheless: quarterback safety.

Defending Burrow has been a continuing drawback, even because the crew has received the division and two playoff video games and is now making ready to face the Payments or Chiefs within the AFC championship recreation. He was sacked 9 occasions Within the Bengals’ 19-16 divisional spherical win over the Titans on Saturday, which tied an NFL playoff document.

“That they had an amazing plan. That they had an amazing rush plan,” Burrow stated after the sport. “Made it robust on us, made it robust on me disguising coverages and blitzes and all the pieces and so they switched it up the entire recreation. They did not stick to at least one factor. One factor did not work, they moved on to the subsequent factor. Stored us on our toes.”

MORE: Bengals vs. Titans ultimate rating, end result

When Burrow arrived in Cincinnati, the most important concern was how the crew would defend the 2020 first general decide. His rookie season ended early due to a knee damage that required surgical procedure to restore a torn ACL and MCL. On the time of his damage, he ranked third within the league with 32 occasions sacked.

Even after bettering the offensive line within the offseason, comparable to signing Riley Reiff and drafting Jackson Carman, the crew completed the 2021 season giving up a league-high 51 sacks.

MORE: Rookie kicker Evan McPherson the hero in win towards Titans

However Saturday was the worst the offensive line had been all season in defending Burrow. In the course of the common season, he was sacked six occasions in a single recreation and 5 occasions in 4 different video games. By no means earlier than had he been sacked 9 occasions.

Three of Tennessee’s defensive linemen have been, on common, inside 4.5 yards of Burrow on the finish of passing performs (4.53 yards is the league common), in accordance with NFL Subsequent Gen Stats, displaying that they have been a continuing menace within the backfield. A few of these sacks got here quick, like Harold Landry’s first-quarter takedown, that took simply 2.6 seconds to occur.

MORE: Fourth-quarter selections burn Vrabel, Titans in loss

Maybe most impressively, most of that stress got here with only a four-man rush, with Subsequent Gen Stats noting that seven of the 9 sacks have been with simply 4 rushers.

The Titans have been among the many finest within the league at getting after the quarterback throughout the common season. They have been graded simply twenty seventh within the league in speeding the passer, in accordance with Professional Soccer Focus, however they ranked tenth in sacks (43), ninth in pressures (169) and seventh in hurries (79) regardless of blitzing on the fifth-lowest charge (19.9 p.c), per Professional Soccer Reference.

And but, regardless of the safety points, the Bengals nonetheless had success on offense. Burrow accomplished 28 of 37 passes for 348 yards with one interception, which got here on a tipped cross to operating again Samaje Perine. These 348 yards have been the fourth-most in NFL historical past by a quarterback who was sacked 9 occasions in a recreation, in accordance with Stathead.

Burrow was typically capable of fireplace fast passes to the surface, which allowed Ja’Marr Chase and different receivers to go to work. Within the first quarter, Chase caught a display cross on the line of scrimmage and took it 57 yards, hitting the second-fastest pace of his NFL profession (21.66 mph, per Subsequent Gen Stats), to assist put Cincinnati in place to attain.

And when Burrow wasn’t underneath stress, he picked aside Tennessee’s protection. Subsequent Gen Stats reported that he accomplished 25 of 31 passes for 325 yards when he did not face stress, accounting for 93 p.c of his whole passing yards.

And in a lot of these situations when he had time to throw, Burrow centered on shorter distances and permitting his quick receivers to run after the catch. He accomplished 21 of 25 passes thrown lower than 10 yards downfield.

MORE: Titans tie Bengals after officers uphold shut name on Tennessee interception

Bettering the cross safety will stay a degree of emphasis as Cincinnati heads to the AFC championship. However for now, Burrow can take a much-needed relaxation.


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