Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Bengals QB Joe Burrow breaks silence as he faces Bills in playoffs

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As fate would have it, the Buffalo Bills meet the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Playoffs on Sunday, January 22nd. This win-or-go-home match comes just 20 days after the Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Bengals was canceled following Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency at Paycor Stadium, a traumatic event for all involved.

After the Bills’ 34-31 win over the Miami Dolphins in the wild card round on Sunday and Cincinnati’s 24-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and company have to travel to Buffalo for their next duel . On Monday, Jan. 16, NBC Sports analyst Peter King asked Burrow if he had lost the ability to secure home field court after the Week 17 game was declared no-contest and if the 26-year-old “evil will” made the decision.

“It is what it is,” Burrow said, refusing to complain about things he can’t control. “This is… this is where we are. It’s our job to figure out how to go in there and win.”

Burrow and the entire Bengals organization have gracefully navigated the unprecedented situation involving Hamlin, and while head coach Zac Taylor has criticized the NFL for suddenly changing the rules in a way that did not favor their team following the cancellation, was his anger at Roger Goodell and the League, not the bills.

Burrow, an Ohio native, acknowledged the benefits of the home game during his post-game press on Sunday. “I love our fans here… The fans do a great job of giving us energy and putting us in a good position to make it difficult for opposing teams when they come in here,” but he’s still keen to go after advance into Orchard Park.

“It’s an exciting moment,” he told reporters. “They are a great team with a great quarterback. I look forward to the challenge.”

Burrow credited Hamlin’s remarkable recovery with the team’s ability to get excited about playing football again, particularly against the Bills. The Pro Bowler also made it clear that he has no regrets about how things turned out after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest.

“That night I was proud of the way things were handled,” Burrow told King. “I think it was handled correctly. Both teams supported each other. It was a difficult moment for everyone. The head coaches handled it with class and in the end made the right decision to cancel the game. I was proud to be an NFL player at that moment.

“If something like that happens, you’re not the Bengals and the Bills anymore. You are NFL players who care about each other and want the best for each other. So that was a tough moment. That’s great [Hamlin] is back in Buffalo with the team. I think that will make the game a lot easier to play.”

Taylor is also excited for this match between Bills and Bengals. “It feels like two deserved teams[face each other],” he said Sunday night, per Bengals.com. “Buffalo is one of the best playing environments in all of football. I’ve been there many, many times and it’s a fun environment. It’s a worthy playoff environment and our boys will be charged and ready to go. It should be a damn good game.”

While Buffalo’s narrow win over the Dolphins, a team they considered 13-point favorites, didn’t exactly inspire confidence in Buffalo’s postseason run, they are considered a 4.5-point favorite to defeat the Bengals. Much like the Bills, Cincinnati fought harder than expected to defeat the Ravens, a team led by backup quarterback Tyler Huntley.

To prepare for the big game, Bill’s left guard Rodger Saffold told The Athletic that studying the 9 minutes and two seconds of film they have against the Bengals will not be an easy task.

“I know it’s hard for our boys to watch because of Damar, but you have to look at it carefully. I don’t think it would be professional of us not to consider any of those plays.” Saffold said. “It’s chaos in chess when it comes to these kinds of games. Preparation will be key.”

Such a small sample size of game tapes also complicates things since there were only 18 games. While the Bengals were up 7-3, there’s no telling how things would have played out. Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson noted, “After 18 offensive games, the Chargers were 7-0 ahead of the Jaguars, had the ball and were close to scoring another goal and taking command. Anything can happen in 18 games… It was certainly interesting that Cincinnati led and looked good in the game, but who knows how the next 120 games would have played out?

Bills guard Ryan Bates sees this duel between Bengals and Bills as a fresh start. “We’re back at Square One,” he said. “You won’t know what we’re up to. We won’t know what they have planned for this week. We’ll go in like any other week and watch the video and make sure we’re prepared.”

Bills guard Ryan Bates sees this duel between Bengals and Bills as a fresh start. “We’re back at Square One,” he said. “You won’t know what we’re up to. We won’t know what they have planned for this week. We’ll go in like any other week and watch the video and make sure we’re prepared.”

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