The Bengals are proof. These quarterbacks can be stopped.
What a win for Cincinnati. As it turns out, a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes can be stopped. Joe Burrow is exceptional, but this team is far more.
The Cincinnati Bengals are why we all watch pro football. The hope, always, is real in this sport. Not manufactured. A team can realistically elevate from the sewer to the Super Bowl in one offseason.
Joe Burrow made this all possible, of course.
The quarterback with his name already etched on a high school stadium, the quarterback who threw 60 touchdowns as a senior at LSU injected everyone with belief in Cincy. You heard Mike Hilton a few days ago in this space. “We feel like they might have Pat Mahomes but we have Joe Burrow. We know we can play with those guys and we can beat those guys.” Burrow’s mettle was evident yet again in this AFC Championship. Down 21-3, all he did was calmly make play after play to claw his team back into it.
But this 27-24 overtime thriller served as a friendly reminder to all that football is not played on a video game or inside an Excel spreadsheet. We all loved Bills-Chiefs, right? Shootouts are fun. Your heart was likely exploding out of your chest even if you didn’t care who won that game. With the league bending its rules to favor the offense, expect more unfathomable, “13 Seconds”-like finishes. However, backyard football took a backseat on Championship Sunday. Over in the AFC, the Bengals reminded everyone that the “Transcendent Quarterback” — the indomitable, inevitable, unstoppable force we spend weeks on end drooling over — can be stopped. In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams were dragged into a bare-knuckle brawl by the San Francisco 49ers and still found a way to win, 20-17.
It’s Cincinnati. It’s L.A.
It’s organic, small market vs. contrived, massive market.
There’s plenty of intrigue for all. And I think this is the takeaway from Sunday: We have not reached some point of no return where this game is only about who has the ball last. Cincinnati displayed a good ‘ol fashioned backbone in KC.
What a sight it was, too.