The Cincinnati Bengals entered the weekend having gone longer than anybody else in the NFL since recording their last postseason victory. They are now among the teams with the most recent, after handling the Las Vegas Raiders in a 26-19 score, their first postseason win since the 1990 season, 31 years ago.
But it won’t be the last, not by a long shot, according to quarterback Joe Burrow, the team’s 2020 first overall draft pick. The second-year man had himself a season, leading the league in completion percentage, connecting on 366 of 520 passes for 4,611 yards with 34 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last five games.
It is primarily because of his talents as much as anything else that the Bengals were finally able to end their decades-long dry spell. But you would hardly know it by watching him—because, for one thing, he’s only been here for two years. But for another, he wanted to convey the image and the message that this is nothing that will be out of the ordinary.
“I think the fans were very excited, but I tried to downplay it and all that because this is how it’s going to be from here on out”, he said this week, transcription taken from Pro Football Talk. “It was a great win for us, but this is the standard — the bare minimum every year going forward”.
This weekend will mark the Bengals’ first appearance in the Divisional Round since 1990, a year in which they won the division with a 9-7 record. They would not even make the postseason after that again until 2005. This year marked their first postseason appearance since 2015.
While the Bengals have been awful for a long time, however, that’s not something Burrow has been used to. After all, he had one of the great college football seasons of all time just two years ago, and he was throwing the ball to the man who helped him author that, rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
That duo worked out pretty well this year. Chase made the Pro Bowl, in fact, catching 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns, all of which would shatter the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie receiving records—although Najee Harris did bump up the reception record from 62 to 74 this year.
Chase also caught nine passes on 12 targets for 116 yards against the Raiders in the Wild Card Round, adding another 23 yards and three rushes for 139 total yards from scrimmage. But the is far from the only weapon. Burrow also has Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd at wide receiver, Joe Mixon in the backfield, and C.J. Uzomah at tight end, with Boyd and Uzomah scoring the touchdowns.
This weekend, the Bengals will be hosted by the top-seeded Tennessee Titans, coming off their bye week. They’ll probably have to do better than 2-for-5 in the red zone in that one, settling for four field goals overall.