The Bengals’ offensive line failed them when they needed it most in their 23-20 Super Bowl loss to the Rams. To fully grasp just how responsible the offensive line was for the team’s loss, you need only watch their final offensive play of the game.
Cincinnati was facing a fourth-and-1 on the Rams’ 49-yard line with 43 seconds left in the contest. Zac Taylor and the Bengals chose to pass the ball out of the shotgun formation, which got blown up from the start.
Aaron Donald bowled through the line with ease and got to Burrow. He had Joe Burrow wrapped up and while the Bengals’ quarterback was able to get the ball away, it fell harmlessly to the turf, nearby 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 had been able to remain upright for just a split second longer, he may have been able to make a big play that could have swung the game in the other direction.
Ja’Marr Chase was running a go route on that fourth-down play. He was able to blow by defensive back Jalen Ramsey, who fell down on the play. You can see here just how open Chase would have been if the Bengals’ blocking had held up.
Ja’Marr Chase already was behind Jalen Ramsey on a go route when Ramsey fell on the fourth-and-1 game ender. If Burrow had a sliver more time … pic.twitter.com/uQfgqZ88P4
— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) February 14, 2022
Of course, as you can see in that still shot, Burrow was already in the grasp of Donald. 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 sack escapes in NFL history.
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Still, it certainly leads one to wonder just how good the Bengals might be if they can upgrade their offensive line, which allowed Burrow to be sacked a league-high 70 combined times during the regular season and playoffs. They also tied a Super Bowl record with seven sacks allowed, something that hadn’t happened since the Steelers got after Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X.
The Bengals will surely spend the 2022 offseason figuring out ways to upgrade their offensive line. Until then, the lasting image of Chase standing open and Burrow in the grasp will remind Bengals fans of a popular meme that circled after they selected Chase over Penei Sewell.
It finally happened….. pic.twitter.com/hYYxZYHIWs
— Arnold (@arnsull) February 14, 2022
Rolling with Chase, who won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, over Sewell proved to be the right move. Still, to say that the Bengals need to do a better job of protecting Burrow in 2022 and beyond is a massive understatement.