LOS ANGELES (WCMH) — The meteoric rise of the Cincinnati Bengals could end in the franchise’s first Super Bowl title when they face off with the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday on NBC4 at 6:30 p.m. EST.
The Bengals spent the last two years as the division’s cellar-dwellers and weren’t projected to be much of anything this season, either. But Joe Burrow & Co. refused to believe they were only destined to be a middling team.
“We’ve proven if you underestimate us, we’re going to beat you,” Burrow said.
Under his leadership, Cincinnati won its first playoff game in 31 years and is in its first Super Bowl since 1989.
“He’s someone who can turn a franchise around.”
“He’s a cold-blooded killer out there dicing defenses. It’s great!” tight end C.J. Uzomah said with a smile. “That’s why I call him ‘franchise.’ He’s a franchise player and he’s someone who can turn an organization around.”
Burrow’s belief in himself has percolated throughout the Bengals’ locker room where a team of misfits and young stars changed the narrative from “Why not us?” to “It is us.”
“When you believe your quarterback can take you the distance, it allows everybody to play that one percent better because they know on the other side, that trigger man is capable of doing some really special things,” head coach Zac Taylor said. “I think he’s helped take us to these heights. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
“He’s just got that smooth confidence about him. It’s very contagious.”
Burrow’s confidence grew during his time at LSU where rookie sensation Ja’Marr Chase had a front row seat to one of the best individual seasons in college football history.
“When I first met Joe, he wasn’t a very social person cause he was around new people,” Chase said about Burrow when he transferred from Ohio State to LSU. “As we started playing, his confidence started growing. That’s when his swag started to take off.”
Joe Cool rings true on and off the field as an unlikely trend setter and a quarterback poised well beyond his years. His calm demeanor and ability to take over games comes from preparation and a high football IQ.
“He’s so smart and he understands football and he knows exactly what he wants once we call plays,” receiver Tyler Boyd said. “He’s like a magician out there when he’s commanding us . . . he makes our job easier.”
Things have been far from easy for Burrow in Cincinnati, especially his rookie season when the team was 2-6-1 before he tore his ACL in week 10.
“I know he got hurt last year but even last year he was a warrior. He fought through a lot of things,” running back Joe Mixon said. “The first day he took the huddle with us in 2020 we just knew he would be something special, knew he’d be a leader.”
Knowing Burrow would be special is a common thread among teammates, including former Buckeye safety and current Bengal Vonn Bell who saw Burrow as a freshman at Ohio State in 2015.
“I always believed in him ever since the Ohio State days. He’s a warrior man, big inspiration coming off a knee injury like that. You just see the relentlessness in him,” Bell said. “He’s just got that smooth confidence about him and it’s very contagious.”