Thursday Night Football reaction: Burrow, as we already knew, is a flat-out winner

Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
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A Thursday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars is never going to set viewership records, but it was about as good as it could have been for those who did decide to tune in. Not only did the Joe Burrow-Trevor Lawrence showdown live up to the hype, but the outcome also wasn’t decided until the last play of the game.

The Bengals went in as -7.5 favorites and although it was by no means a dominant performance, it was a big win. Their 24-21 victory on a last-second 35-yard field goal by Evan McPherson propelled them to 3-1—good for sole possession of first place in the AFC North (a half-game ahead of Baltimore and Cleveland).

Let’s recap what happened in Cincinnati on Thursday night and break down what it means.

Burrow at his best when it matters most

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is just a winner; that’s what he is. We already knew that from his time at LSU, where he led the Tigers to a National Championship. He may not win the Super Bowl in his second season (hopefully first full one) with Cincinnati, but he is a QB with whom this franchise can eventually win one.

The Bengals trailed 14-0 at halftime on Thursday. In the second half, Burrow completed 17 of 20 passes for 253 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. On the final drive that led to the game-winning field goal, he went 5-for-5 for 68 yards.

Trevor Lawrence wasn’t bad, either. The No. 1 overall pick one year after Burrow, Lawrence went 17-of-24 for 204 yards. Neither signal-caller turned the ball over a single time. Lawrence was good; he just wasn’t good enough (again!) to beat Burrow.

Are the Bengals contenders?

The Jaguars were never going to be in the playoff picture this season regardless of Thursday’s result. If the Bengals had lost this game they probably could have had a fork stuck in them, as well. Granted, 2-2 wouldn’t have been the worst record in the world; but 2-2 with a home loss to Jacksonville certainly doesn’t have you on the right path.

With the victory, Cincinnati is most definitely in the AFC North mix. It’s not only because the Bengals are currently at the top. It’s also not only because they appear to be a legitimate team. Additionally, it’s because the rest of the division is vulnerable. The Steelers (1-2) have been a train wreck dating back to their Week 13 loss to Washington last season. Both the Ravens and Browns are 2-1, but the Ravens needed a 66-yard Justin Tucker field goal to beat Detroit and the Browns are…the Browns.

Although the Bengals’ schedule isn’t easy, if they can take care of the Lions and Jets and then beat Cleveland at home in Week 9 they should be no worse than 6-3 through 9 games. Those results are by no means foregone conclusions, but things are shaping up nicely at the moment.

A home loss to Jacksonville would be have been an unmitigated disaster. One big second-half comeback later, I would think long and hard about sprinkling some on Cincinnati at still-long +900 odds to win its division.

A fickle game, this football.

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