The Bengals offensive line failed when they needed it most in their 23-20 Super Bowl loss to the Rams. To fully understand how much the offensive line was responsible for the team’s loss, all you need to do is look at their last offensive play of the game.
Cincinnati was facing a fourth-and-one on the Rams 49-yard line with 43 seconds left in the game. Zac Taylor and the Bengals opted to pass the ball out of the shotgun formation, which exploded from the get-go.
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Aaron Donald crossed the line with ease and arrived at Burrow. He had Joe Burrow wrapped and while the Bengals quarterback was able to recover the ball, he fell harmlessly to the turf, close to Samaje Perine.
– NFL (@NFL) February 14, 2022
It’s impossible to blame Burrow for the outcome of this play – he was under duress almost immediately. That said, if he could have stood up for just a split second longer, he might have been able to make a big play that could have swung the game the other way.
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Ja’Marr Chase was running a starting route on this fourth down play. He managed to blow through defensive back Jalen Ramsey, who fell on the play. You can see here how open Chase would have been had the Bengals’ block held.
Ja’Marr Chase was already behind Jalen Ramsey on a starting road when Ramsey fell late in game four and game one. If Burrow had a little more time… pic.twitter.com/uQfgqZ88P4
— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) February 14, 2022
Of course, as you can see in this photo, Burrow was already in Donald’s hands. So the point is moot. There was nothing he could do to get the ball to Chase — short of making what would surely be one of the most impressive escapes in NFL history.
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Still, it certainly begs the question of how good the Bengals could be if they can improve their offensive line, which saw Burrow fired 70 times during the regular season and playoffs. They also tied a Super Bowl record with seven sacks allowed, which hadn’t happened since the Steelers snapped up Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X.
The Bengals will surely spend the 2022 offseason finding ways to improve their offensive line. Until then, the enduring image of Chase standing open and Burrow within reach will remind Bengals fans of a popular meme that spun after choosing Chase over Penei Sewell.
It finally happened….. pic.twitter.com/hYYxZYHIWs
—Arnold (@arnsull) February 14, 2022
Riding with Chase, who won Offensive Rookie of the Year, on Sewell turned out to be the right decision. Still, to say the Bengals need to do a better job of protecting Burrow in 2022 and beyond is a massive understatement.