- Pro Football Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson is all aboard the Joe Burrow hype train
- Simpson said “nobody” is better than the Bengals’ second-year quarterback after his performance in the AFC Championship Game
- The Buffalo Bills legend also offered high praise for Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo
Trailing 21-3 with just over five minutes left in the first half of the AFC Championship Game, the Cincinnati Bengals needed young quarterback Joe Burrow, to pull a rabbit out of his hat. When all was said and done on Sunday, he had the entire fluffle in his grasp.
In large part because of Burrow’s leadership and clutch throws, the Bengals are Super Bowl-bound for the first time since January 1988. More fans are quickly attaching themselves to the quarterback’s bandwagon, and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson is proudly among that crowd.
O.J. Simpson is officially aboard the Joe Burrow hype train
With Arrowhead Stadium loudly chanting for his failure, Burrow rallied the troops exactly as he’s done all season. The second-year quarterback connected with running back Samaje Perine on a 41-yard touchdown with over a minute left in the first half. From the sidelines, he watched the Bengals’ defense make a pivotal goal-line stop to close the second quarter.
Burrow and the Bengals’ offense spent the second half scoring and chewing up the clock, eventually taking a 24-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s defense pressured Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and derailed oft-praised offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s entire gameplan.
Fans of both sides know the rest by now. After Cincinnati intercepted Mahomes on the first drive in overtime, Burrow led the Bengals downfield and set rookie kicker Evan McPherson up for a game-winning, 31-yard field goal.
As the Bengals celebrated their AFC title on a podium at Arrowhead Stadium, Simpson took to his official (and unverified) Twitter account and glowingly praised the LSU product.
“As much as I love [Buffalo Bills quarterback] Josh Allen — and I love Josh Allen — [and] as much as I love Patrick Mahomes, and I love Patrick Mahomes … Joe Burrow, there’s nobody better than him. I mean, he would have been Rookie of the Year last year if he hadn’t gotten hurt. But this Cincinnati team, the perseverance — they get so tough in the second half. The coaches make all the right adjustments. Hey, congratulations to them.”O.J. Simpson
Nothing says playoff football like hot takes minutes after a game ends. Just ask anyone who weighed in on the NFL’s overtime policy following the AFC Divisional Round.
Simpson is right to accept Burrow as one of the league’s top young quarterbacks
Burrow entered the 2021 season with more questions than football fans likely wanted to admit. There were still questions about his knee, especially given the Bengals’ porous offensive line, and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase struggled with drops in training camp. He would have needed a record year to find his name mentioned along with the likes of Allen and Mahomes.
Flash forward nearly five months later. Although Burrow has thrown 16 interceptions in 19 total games this year, he also has 38 passing touchdowns to his name. He’s developed a reputation for stepping up late in games and leading the comeback against superior teams. If not for a certain former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, we might be calling Burrow “Joe Cool” right now.
Fair or not, quarterbacks who win get a pass on turning the ball over. Fans might have shrugged off Mahomes’ overtime interception if the Chiefs’ defense forced a punt or a turnover of their own. Instead, the Super Bowl 54 MVP’s pick doomed Kansas City’s chances of a third straight Super Bowl appearance.
There is no argument that Burrow needs to limit his interceptions next year. However, he’s clearly demonstrated over the last few months that he can succeed in the NFL as a risk-taking gunslinger.
Burrow isn’t in Mahomes’ category just yet, but very few in the league are. However, the LSU product has solidified his place as one of the league’s top young quarterbacks, just as Mahomes did following his MVP season in 2018 and Allen did after last season.
Simpson also offered high praise for Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo
Before praising Burrow, Simpson complimented Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, who limited the Chiefs’ prolific offense to three points in the final three periods.
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the Bengals dropped eight-plus men in coverage on 45% of their defensive sets on pass plays after halftime. Cincinnati only did so on 25% of plays in the first half.
“He should be looking for a head coaching job because he did a hell of a job here,” Simpson said of Anarumo.
Simpson isn’t alone in thinking highly of Anarumo, who interviewed for the New York Giants’ head coaching vacancy earlier this year. The Giants hired Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll following the AFC Divisional Round.
Luckily for the Bengals, Anarumo cannot currently interview for any head coaching jobs because no teams formally requested to speak with him ahead of the AFC Championship Game. That is good news for Simpson, who won’t have to potentially watch his 49ers offense struggle against Anarumo’s unit in Super Bowl 56.
On a related note, Jimmy Garoppolo should not expect to hear his name listed alongside Allen and Mahomes’ anytime soon.