Joe Burrow has taken a number of beatings throughout the 2021 season. The one he sustained in Super Bowl 56 ranked among the worst.
Burrow was sacked seven times by the Rams defense on Sunday, tying the Super Bowl record and totaling the second-most he has had throughout the year.
One sack, in particular, appeared to be especially painful. After the play, the Comeback Player of the Year struggled to get up and hobbled to the sideline, clutching his right knee as the team prepared to punt on fourth down.
#Bengals QB Joe Burrow sacked and sustains a valgus (knee bends in) injury to the right knee. NOT his surgically reconstructed knee. Video concerning for MCL sprain. Painful, but possible to play through. pic.twitter.com/q0g4CfBElY
— DocFlynn (@DocFlynnNFL) February 14, 2022
But Burrow explained that there was no way he was going to leave that game.
“Yeah, we can check it out after the game when we get back to Cincinnati,” Burrow said in his post-game press conference. “But I wasn’t coming out.”
NFL POWER RANKINGS 2022: Chiefs, Bills, Bengals lead way-too-early projections
Coach Zac Taylor said after the game that the team will find out more about the injury later and he said only that he knew Burrow could play.
“He’s a fighter. He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. So much respect for Joe. He’s gotten us to this moment and it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t finish it off as a team,” Taylor said. “He always responds well and jumps back in and can fight through a lot of pain.”
Since arriving in Cincinnati, Burrow has been under constant duress under center. In his rookie season, he was sacked in Week 10 on a play that wound up tearing both his ACL and MCL against the Washington Football Team. During the 2021 regular season, he led the NFL with 51 sacks absorbed despite not playing the season’s final game. Against the Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs, he was sacked nine times, setting a playoff record.
MORE: Super Bowl officials miss Rams’ false start before calling questionable penalty against Bengals’ Logan Wilson
And coming into the Super Bowl, a major part of the narrative was the mismatch between the Bengals’ struggling offensive line and the dominant Rams’ defensive front that featured perhaps the league’s most dangerous pass-rusher in Aaron Donald. Burrow took one sack in the first half, but was taken down six times in the second half and was hit by Donald as he attempted to get a pass off on the game’s final play.
Burrow declined to attribute blame to his offensive front after the game, instead saying that he, too, needed to improve in making sure he avoided sacks next season.
“I thought for the most part, they played really well up front,” Burrow said. “I was proud of the way they fought. I’ve been proud of the way that they fought all season. We all have to get better individually, and myself included.”
MORE: Rams vs. Bengals by the numbers
Improving the offensive line is almost certainly going to be at the forefront of the team’s offseason wishlist. According to Spotrac, the Bengals have the fourth-most cap space of any team in the NFL heading into the campaign.
Tight end C.J. Uzomah, the team’s longest tenured offensive player, said it is “tough” to watch Burrow get sacked as many times as he has over his first two years in the league.
“That’s the franchise, right,” Uzomah said. “You don’t want to see your franchise quarterback get hit as many times as he did and that’s probably going to be a point of emphasis coming up.”