Morning Chronicle - Burrow happy to be underdog as Super Bowl looms

London -


Burrow happy to be underdog as Super Bowl looms
Burrow happy to be underdog as Super Bowl looms

Burrow happy to be underdog as Super Bowl looms

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals head into Sunday's Super Bowl showdown with the Los Angeles Rams as firm underdogs. And that's just the way the talented Bengals quarterback likes it.

Text size:

Whether it's making a successful return from a devastating knee injury or turning the form book upside down, Burrow is never more dangerous than when the odds are stacked against him.

Burrow will look to confound conventional wisdom again on Sunday when the Bengals battle the heavily favored Rams in their own SoFi Stadium for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

After Burrow led the Bengals on a remarkable giant-killing run to the NFL showpiece, the Rams would be unwise to underestimate the 25-year-old quarterback.

A year ago, Burrow was rehabbing his wrecked left knee after suffering multiple torn cruciate ligaments in November 2020, cutting short a promising rookie year.

But he returned this year with a vengeance, carrying the Bengals into the playoffs and inspiring upset road wins over the top-seeded Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.

Victory over the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game came in overtime after the Bengals overturned a 21-3 half-time deficit.

Burrow's composure in that game confirmed the impression he has made since entering the league as the No.1 pick in the 2020 draft -- that he is among the leading lights of a new generation of young quarterbacks set to dominate the NFL.

"When the moments are big, he plays big," is how Bengals head coach Zac Taylor describes his quarterback. "He's built for these kind of stages."

"We've got really good talent and football character on this team, and when you've got a quarterback who you believe can take you the distance, it allows everyone to play that 1 percent better," Taylor added. "Because they know the trigger man's capable of doing some really special things.

- 'A special one' -

"He's able to elevate his team-mates, and coaches and those around him to believe that special things are possible."

During rehab from his knee injury last year, Burrow formed a bond with the Rams' veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth.

Whitworth, who spent 11 seasons with the Bengals before joining the Rams in 2017, was also recovering from knee surgery and invited Burrow to spend time at his home in Los Angeles.

Whitworth recalls contacting Bengals head coach Taylor after spending a day with Burrow.

"Man, you got a special one," Whitworth told Taylor. "We all knew from the talent, the ability you had seen him play in college how good he was gonna be.

"But sitting with him for that full day, I realized, 'Man, this guy is going to be a really, really special quarterback for quite some time.'"

A victory on Sunday would elevate Burrow into an exclusive club.

Only two other quarterbacks -- New York Jets icon Joe Namath and San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana -- have won both a Super Bowl and a National Collegiate Championship.

Burrow, who guided Louisiana State University to the national championship in 2020, has earned comparisons to Montana this season for his rare calm under pressure.

Approaching the biggest game of his life, Burrow doubts he will be bothered by stage fright.

“When I played in the state championship in high school it feels like the Super Bowl does now," Burrow said.

"Everything feels the same - I’ve just had more reps in those pressure situations.

"I'm a little bit calmer now."

With Tom Brady following Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees into retirement in recent seasons, Burrow is happy to be in the vanguard of the new generation of NFL quarterbacks that includes talents such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murry and Lamar Jackson.

"It's great for the fans," Burrow says. "Quarterback play is what drives the league in my opinion.

"We have a lot of really good young players who I think are going to be here for a long time. It's fun to be a part of it."