CINCINNATI ( Associated Press) – Cincinnati’s success has been partly due to Joe Burrow’s ability to process and work, complete short-window passes and work around the team’s shortcomings and convert broken plays into first downs.
Meanwhile, the Bengals’ running game has become second-choice.
The Bengals finished the regular season 29th out of 32 teams in the NFL – averaging 92.9 yards per game – the lowest except for the two other playoff teams and the lowest of any team that advanced to the divisional round.
Cincinnati finished with 100 or more rushing yards in only three games. The last was in a Week 14 win over the Browns.
In his last two games against Baltimore – in the regular season finale and in the wild-card round – Cincinnati had 106 rushing yards. The Bengals have averaged just 58 in their last four games.
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan acknowledged that “we are not a volume-carrying team,” but said the emphasis on the running game was not intentional, but rather the way that has worked for him in recent months.
“First of all, we faced very good defense. We are facing some teams that are determined to stop the running game and are good at it,” Callahan said. “The other thing he made is we learned to shoot the ball better over the last few weeks.”
The Bengals put together an offense that was underperforming earlier this season. It has helped contain the passers that made Burrow the most sacked quarterback in 2021 and blitzed him after the Super Bowl loss to the Rams.
His 68.3% completion percentage ranked him second behind Seattle’s Geno Smith heading into the 2022 regular season. His 297.7 passing yards per game is behind only Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City. Burrow threw a career-high 35 touchdown passes and tied for second with Buffalo’s Josh Allen.
Due to a series of injuries, the Bengals will have four backup starters on the offensive line in Sunday’s divisional game against Buffalo. Luckily, nothing fazes their 26-year-old star.
“I think you need to have that mindset as a quarterback on this roster if you really want to be successful — you can’t go out scared at this point,” he said.