The historic consecutive games thing, it’s really Cincinnati’s jam.
For instance, did you know that in baseball, the longest streak of World Series game victories in National League history belongs to the Cincinnati Reds? From Game 7 in 1975 through their World Series sweep in 1990, the Reds have nine wins in a row.
And speaking of the Reds, there’s Pete Rose and his National League record 44-game hitting streak in 1978. But the most impressive two-game streak in all of baseball history has to belong to the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer, who threw no-hitters in consecutive starts in 1938.
And now, the most impressive two-game streak in NFL history belongs to the Cincinnati Bengals.
What quarterback Joe Burrow did on Sunday in a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs did more than clinch the 2021 AFC North title and keep the Bengals alive for the top seed in the AFC.
What the second-year man from LSU did on Sunday, with considerable help from his LSU wide receiver teammate Ja’Marr Chase, was something that no quarterback in NFL history had ever done before.
Wink-Wink: Burrow did something in two games no quarterback had ever done before
It’s been about 10 days now, and somewhere Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is fully aware of the monster he inadvertently awakened, and he is horrified. What seemed like an innocuous comment is now haunting not just the Ravens and the rest of the AFC North teams, but all of football as well.
Lesson learned: Don’t poke Joe Burrow.
When asked before their Week 16 game against the Bengals how their strategy against Burrow and Chase might be similar to what the Ravens faced with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Martindale threw some serious shade on the young Bengals QB.
“We’re going down the wrong street,” Martindale said of the question. “Like I said last week, Davante Adams, he’s one of the top two receivers in the league, and he’s not No. 2, and Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Fame quarterback, and I don’t think we’re ready to buy a gold jacket for Joe [Burrow].
Hey, Wink, get out your needles and thread, champ.
Against the Ravens, Burrow put on a show worthy of nearby Canton, throwing for 525 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Yes, Burrow said, he was aware of the comments.
They must have still been ringing in Burrow’s ears on Sunday against the Chiefs. After the Bengals fell behind 21-7, Burrow went right back to historic work, finishing with 446 yards and another four touchdowns, again without an interception.
And with that, a historic NFL first: No quarterback in league history had ever gone back-to-back games with 400 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
In the process, Burrow set the Bengals’ single-season record for passing yards with 4,611 and touchdown passes with 34.
“I’m seeing the field really well, Burrow said in the early 2022 leader for understatement of the year. “We were able to get ball out quickly and get the ball in our playmakers’ hands.”
The Bengals needed every yard and every touchdown from Burrow and Chase Sunday
While Burrow was setting his records and Chase was setting his own rookie record for yards in a game with 266, the Bengals three times rallied from 14-point deficits against the AFC West champions before finally winning the game on 20-yard field goal by fellow rookie Evan McPherson with no time left.
With that, the Bengals had their first division title since 2015 and are now poised to try to win the franchise’s first postseason game since 1991.
“I said it in the preseason. We were talking about playoffs, and I said that if we were going to go to the playoffs, the easiest way to do that was to win the division,” Burrow said. “Everyone kind of laughed at us a little bit, but we knew what kind of team we had and the kind of guys in the locker room we had. We knew we could go out and do it.”
What Week 18 opportunities await the Bengals in their regular-season finale
The victory not only clinched the AFC South title, it brought the Bengals (10-6) within a game of the Chiefs (11-5) and the Tennessee Titans (11-5) for best record in the AFC. If the Bengals defeat the Browns in Week 18, while the Chiefs lose to the Broncos and the Titans lose to the Texans, the Bengals would leap from their current No. 3 position to the top seed, by virtue of better conference record between the three teams.
Regardless, the Bengals are assured at least one home playoff game in their bid to reach their first Super Bowl since the 1988 season. And Burrow, who won the national championship with LSU back in 2019, is playing the best football of his life at the perfect time.
“We had expectations for him, and so far he’s exceeded those expectations,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “And of course, he’s got championships on his brain — he’s not just a guy winning big regular-season games. I know that’s why he’s here — he’s always playing for championships. He’s playing for championships in high school, he played for championships in college, and his expectation has always been to compete for championships here.
“And it’s not going to be easy — we’ve got a lot to work to do — we’re not even close yet to doing all these great things. Certainly, a big step in the right direction today, and there’s no question that Joe is at the forefront of leadership on this team, and this team jumps on his back, and he’ll carry us as far as we let him.”