COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The energy drained out of the Cincinnati Bengals when rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was carted off the field Sunday with a season-ending knee injury.
The 23-year-old Heisman Trophy winner went down early in the second half when he was hit high and low by two Washington linemen after throwing a pass. His left leg bent awkwardly.
Leading 9-7 at that point, Cincinnati lost to Washington 20-9.
Burrow’s tweet after the game indicated he already knew he was done for 2020: “Thanks for all the love. Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.”
Coach Zac Taylor said Monday only that Burrow will have surgery and be ready to play in 2021. Burrow was placed on injured reserve by the team on Monday.
With Burrow out, the chances of the Bengals (2-7-1) winning another game this season get slimmer. No disrespect to backup Ryan Finley, but Burrow was the key to the moribund team's improvement this year and its future.
Taylor's dejection was palpable in his postgame Zoom session.
“It’s not fun," Taylor said. "He was making improvements every week, and we were getting the offense headed in a direction that we thought was exciting.”
Keeping Burrow upright and healthy had been a challenge this season with multiple injuries to offensive linemen. But the quarterback mitigated the deficiencies in pass protection by getting the ball out more quickly and extending plays with his legs. He put up some fine numbers and was being talked about as a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
He completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns, while running for three more.
Burrow was through 10 games “everything we’d hoped he would be,” Taylor said. “And we’ll get him back at some point. We don’t know when that is, but for now we got to transform that energy and put it somewhere else in this team.”
Burrow's favorite receiver, Tyler Boyd, is trying to keep his focus on the team's longer-term future.
“It just sucks, man," Boyd said. "But he’s a true leader that I know is going to get us to a Super Bowl.”
The offense was noticeably better behind the dynamic, creative Burrow, but the whole scheme will have to change without him. Boyd had another solid game, with nine receptions for 85 yards. DEs Carl Lawson and Khalid Kareem got sacks Sunday, which was significant because pressure from the pass rush had been lacking.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
With Joe Mixon on injured reserve with a foot injury, Cincinnati's ground game can't get any traction.
Finley, by virtue of now being Cincinnati's starting quarterback, moves into the spotlight. Selected by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of North Carolina State, Finley started three games last season after Andy Dalton was benched, but had no stats this season. After Burrow's injury, he was 3 for 10 for 30 yards and threw an interception. Whether anyone will be paying attention to Finley and Bengals the rest of the season is another matter.
The Bengals' psyche. The loss of the franchise quarterback who gave his teammates and fans hope for better days is a huge blow. With six games to go, it would be easy for the players to lose focus with little else to play for the rest of the season.
There were no other significant injuries reported.
70: Yards rushing by five Bengals ball carriers against Washington.
Cincinnati needs to regroup and get Finley up to speed before hosting the New York Giants (3-7) on Sunday.
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