Burrow says season-ending injury ‘part of the game,’ now ‘time to grind it out’

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow was excited about how the game was heading before he felt his wrist pop throwing a go-ahead touchdown pass to Joe Mixon in the second quarter of Thursday’s loss at Baltimore. Even then, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback thought he would just tape it up and keep playing, but he couldn’t grip the football and his night was done.

Now it turns out his season is over as well.

An MRI on Friday morning revealed Burrow had torn a ligament in his wrist. Bengals coach Zac Taylor indicated Burrow would likely need surgery. Burrow also confirmed his research pointed to needing surgery, though the Bengals are still seeking confirmation.

“It’s tough,” Burrow said Friday. “You work so hard for seasons and moments like these. Whenever you get hurt and it ends it early, it’s tough to handle. That’s a part of the game. Been through it before. Time to grind it out.”

Burrow said he landed on his wrist on the play before the touchdown when Jadeveon Clowney hit him, but he didn’t realize he was hurt until he threw the ball on the next play. After getting checked out in the medical tent, he attempted to toss the football twice on the sideline and couldn’t, and he said he had an idea then it was serious.

Jake Browning, who had previously played four NFL snaps, finished the game and will be the new starting quarterback going into the Nov. 26 game against Pittsburgh, with AJ McCarron backing him up. The Bengals will discuss bringing in a third quarterback to add to the practice squad.

Taylor said he won’t be able to control the “national narrative” that with Burrow out, Cincinnati’s season is done, but the locker room doesn’t share that notion. The Bengals are 5-5 with seven games left.

“It’s a special group of guys,” Taylor said. “I think they’ll really relish this opportunity to rally together and show the world what we’re made of. It’s a team our fans will continue to be proud of. It starts with a great opportunity here at home against Pittsburgh. I’m sure our fans are already excited for that. Our team will be excited for that. Excited to put our best foot forward and show the world what we’re made of.”

There’s no question the Bengals are their best when Burrow is healthy, and this season has been a wild ride with the fourth-year quarterback. Burrow opened the year still feeling the effects of a strain he suffered in his calf on Day 2 of training camp, and Cincinnati went 1-3 before he started feeling more like himself and more mobile.

The Bengals went on a four-game winning streak, snapped by Sunday’s loss to Texas and followed by the defeat at Baltimore on a short turnaround.

Burrow has battled numerous other injuries in his short NFL career, most notably tearing his ACL in Week 10 of his rookie season in 2020, only to bounce back with a “Comeback Player of the Year” campaign in 2021 that ended in the Super Bowl. Even in that season, he dealt with nagging injuries — to his pinky, throat and his other knee — but played through them all.

Then, the start of his 2022 season was impacted by an appendectomy that delayed his start to training camp. Burrow said he isn’t worried about the compilation of so many injuries in his career. If anything, his recovery from the ACL tear was the biggest sign he can come back stronger.

“Just going to treat it like anything else,” Burrow said. “You analyze the situation. You go through the process of what it’s going to take to get back and you go and do it. That’s all you can do.”

Burrow said he was even doing everything he could to make sure his body was right going into the game Thursday, though his efforts to do so ended up bringing about controversy that now has the NFL investigating whether the Bengals improperly failed to report a wrist injury in the days leading up to the game.

The Bengals took down a social media post with a photo of Burrow coming off the plane in Baltimore wearing a compression sleeve on his wrist, but he insists “this is a completely different thing.” The compression sleeve was to help maintain his throwing hand in a short week.

“It’s not uncommon for guys to wear a compression sleeve on a plane because when you go up to that altitude, things can swell up,” Burrow said. “Football, you have a lot of bumps and bruises. This is a completely new injury.”

Both Burrow and Taylor said there is no timeline for a return or any information on when a surgery would take place, but Taylor noted he is expected to make a full recovery. That doesn’t make Friday’s news any easier.

“It’s unfortunate to see a guy who works as hard as he does, the time and energy he puts into his body and making sure he’s at his best for this organization,” Taylor said. “... It kills you to watch someone have to go through this several times now. That’s football. You look around the league and this is something that happens to quarterbacks. Quarterback are going to deal with this kind of stuff, and now it’s on the rest of the team to kind of rally around each other and find a way out of this.”


Sunday, Nov. 26

Steelers at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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