Bengals tackle Jonah Williams on protecting Burrow: ‘We know what our job is’

Credit: Mark Zaleski

Credit: Mark Zaleski

The players on the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line saw the attention given to the number of sacks the team allowed last week at Tennessee, and they know it’s a point of emphasis going into the AFC Championship.

No team had allowed nine sacks in a playoff game and won a playoff game since the league began tracking that stat in 1982. It would be hard to repeat that success with a similar performance this week.

Cincinnati is facing the two-time defending AFC champions Sunday at Kansas City with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

“The message every week is to protect our quarterback and be effective on offense, and so it’s the same message this week,” left tackle Jonah Williams said. “Obviously, we just need to do a better job across the board of executing our protections and everything that goes along with that. So that’s a challenge for us this week and every week moving forward, it’s just executing our jobs.”

Asked how that attention impacted the offensive line this week in practice, Williams the Bengals didn’t need any reminders or extra motivation.

Cincinnati gave up four sacks to the Chiefs in a Week 17 win, including two to defensive tackle Chris Jones, and the offensive line is well aware of the challenge it faces protecting Joe Burrow.

“It’s never a good feeling as an O-line to give up a number of sacks in the game, but like I said, we don’t really swing emotionally based on the discourse publicly,” Williams said. “... We know what our job is. We show up every day and focus in meetings and grind it out at practice to be better on Sunday. And so that’s our mindset this week. It’s our mindset every week, and you know, that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Burrow was a Chiefs fan

Burrow’s dad, Jimmy Burrow, posted a photo on Twitter of his son wearing a Chiefs helmet as a young boy, along with a message saying: “Joe use to like those shiny red Chiefs helmets. Not anymore. Geaux Bengals.”

The Bengals second-year quarterback was born in Iowa, where his dad had been an assistant at Iowa State and at that time was coaching at Ames High School. He moved on to join the staff at Nebraska in 2001-02 when Burrow would have been 5 and 6 years old, but it’s understandable Burrow would have been a Chiefs fan in those early years.

Now, he’s preparing to take on his first NFL-favorite team Sunday.

“I was probably a Chiefs fan before I can remember being a Chiefs fan,” Burrow said in a virtual press conference Friday. “I was probably too young to remember all that, but I still have that little plastic helmet in my room back home. So that is what it is.”

Defense making plays

The Bengals defense has seven takeaways in the last three games, and coach Zac Taylor noted this week they have been one of the best teams in that area lately. Keeping that trend going in the AFC Championship could be the difference again, just like the last two playoff games that ended with turnovers on the last defensive play.

“We’ve just got a lot of hungry guys on the defense,” said cornerback Eli Apple, who tipped a pass that Logan Wilson picked off to set up the game-winning field goal at Tennessee last week. “Everybody’s trying to get the ball, make plays and impact the game as best as they can and we all know if we get 11 hats on the ball consistently, we’re going to limit explosive plays and be able to get big plays like that tipped pick.”

Player availability for Sunday

Bengals defensive end Cam Sample didn’t practice all week because of a groin injury and is doubtful, and wide receiver Stanley Morgan (hamstring) went from being a limited participant Thursday to not practicing Friday and is also doubtful. Defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) was limited all week and is questionable.

Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday, is questionable for Sunday as he goes through concussion protocol, and running back Darrel Williams also is questionable after being limited Friday with a toe injury.

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