Against depleted Ravens secondary, Bengals QB Joe Burrow has historic day in 41-21 win

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, wearing a Santa hat and a Spongebob sweater, was all smiles after dismantling the Ravens secondary in a historic performance on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati.

With a secondary built mostly on practice squad call-ups, the Ravens wilted against Burrow’s Bengals, allowing 575 total yards, the most allowed in a game in franchise history, according to Pro Football Reference. They gave up 548 yards to quarterback John Elway and the Denver Broncos in 1996, their first year as a franchise.


“At the end of the day, we are in the NFL, we got to get it right,” said Ravens safety Tony Jefferson II, who was called up as a COVID-19 replacement two weeks ago. “No excuses. Obviously, it’s not ideal when you don’t have, everybody that’s been gelled together and have that communication. When we go out there, not none of that really matters. We have to go out there and execute the game plan.”

The Ravens were dealt a significant blow early in the game when cornerback Anthony Averett, who has started 14 games this season, was carted off the field with 4:41 left in the first quarter with a rib injury and did not return. Cornerback Daryl Worley, who was signed to the practice squad Tuesday, replaced him and struggled alongside cornerback Kevon Seymour.


As a result, Burrow, the second-year signal-caller who has shown no ill effects of the major knee surgery he underwent last year, rarely missed Sunday and completed 37 of 46 passes for a franchise-record 525 yards and four touchdowns. It’s the fourth most passing yards in a single game in NFL history, trailing only the Rams’ Norm Van Brocklin (554 in 1951), the Texans’ Matt Schaub (527 in 2012) and the Oilers’ Warren Moon (527 in 1990).

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The first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, Burrow became the first quarterback with multiple 400-yard passing games in a season against the same team. He’s also the third quarterback in league history to throw for 525-plus yards and four-plus touchdowns in a game, and it comes after Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns against Baltimore in Week 7.

Most of his damage was done throwing to wide receivers Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd, who combined for 404 yards and three touchdowns on 22 receptions.

Higgins was his top target, catching 12 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Chase, recently a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie, had 125 yards on seven catches. Each have more than 1,000 receiving yards, making the Bengals the first team in league history with multiple players younger than 23 years old with 1,000 in a season.

Burrow and Higgins tested the Ravens’ secondary during the final minutes of the first half. With the Bengals facing a third-and-16, Burrow threw up a deep ball to Higgins, who was double-covered but nonetheless hauled it in for a 52-yard catch at the Ravens’ 3-yard line.

With the game already decided late in the fourth quarter and the Bengals ahead by 20, Burrow’s final throw went for 52 yards to running back Joe Mixon. Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t appear to have a problem with the play call, saying, “They call their plays, we call our plays.”

With two games left in the regular season and the Ravens’ playoff hopes hovering around 35%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections, they are approaching the final stretch with a sense of urgency and not worrying about the injuries they have endured.

“I think it’s just a little bit of adversity,” safety Chuck Clark said. “You’ve got to deal with it sometimes. Not everything’s going to go how you want it to, but you’ve just got to keep moving forward personally and as a team.”

Extra points

  • Ravens rookie receiver Rashod Bateman caught his first career touchdown in the first quarter. The No. 27 overall pick in the NFL draft caught a 4-yard pass from quarterback Josh Johnson to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead with six minutes left in the first quarter. Bateman said the football is going to his mom, calling it “a good Christmas gift.”
  • Ravens tight end Mark Andrews finished with eight catches for 125 yards, becoming the first tight end this season with three straight 100-yard games. Andrews is 15 yards away from setting the Ravens’ single-season receiving yards record, which was set by former wide receiver Michael Jackson (1,201) in 1996. Andrews currently has 1,187 yards.