Burrow needed every last possession to reach the fourth-highest single-game passing total in NFL history, connecting with running back Joe Mixon for a 52-yard gain with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals were clearly trying to send a message to the injury-ravaged Ravens, and reporters seized upon the late deep ball as a potential point of contention in their postgame questions.
But the Ravens refused to give the Bengals any satisfaction, downplaying the unusually-aggressive late-game strategy by Cincinnati.
Harbaugh’s players didn’t appear to be bothered by the play either, according to their postgame press conferences.
“It’s football. We’re on the field playing football,” said linebacker Patrick Queen, “I know if I was on the other side, and I had a chance to do something, I’d try to do it.”
Queen finished with nine tackles, including one for loss, further cementing his place as a centerpiece of the Ravens defense after a 13-tackle performance against the Green Bay Packers on December 19.
“It is what it is,” he continued, “and we’ll see them again soon,” suggesting that the Ravens will be looking for revenge in their 2022 divisional matchups with the Bengals.
Veteran Ravens Add Their Responses
Tight end Mark Andrews was asked if he was surprised about the aggressiveness from the Bengals offense towards the end of the game, but he didn’t take the bait, either.
“I didn’t know anything about that, so it didn’t really resonate with me,” he said.
Jefferson led the Ravens with 10 tackles in his first major snaps since 2019, adding a sack of Burrow for good measure.
“I really don’t honestly care what they’re calling on the other side,” he said, “If they’re throwing it in the air, that’s an opportunity for us on defense to get a turnover.”
Jefferson echoed Harbaugh’s response, adding, “They’re going to do what they do on their side, we’re going to do what we do on our side.”
The Ravens are no strangers to late-game aggressiveness themselves, with harsh criticism from Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio earlier this season and controversial two-point attempts against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers in recent weeks.
Bengals Criticized For Leaving Burrow In
While the Ravens didn’t appear to be upset over the late 52-yard play, the Bengals did receive criticism for keeping their franchise quarterback on the field for two drives when winning by 20 points.
Even before the deep ball to Mixon, Burrow dropped back six consecutive times on the previous drive – albeit only gaining two yards – with a 20-point lead and 8:02 remaining in the game.
The Bengals had just picked off Ravens third-string quarterback Josh Johnson, giving them possession deep in Ravens territory. But rather than take Burrow out or just give the ball his Pro Bowl running back, Joe Mixon, Zac Taylor chose to put his most important player in harm’s way six times in a row.
Burrow was hit several times on both of Cincinnati’s final two drives, likely inspiring injury concerns from Bengals fans along the way. Burrow tore his ACL and MCL last season against the Washington Football Team when passing from the pocket, further proving that mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson aren’t necessarily more susceptible to injury.
Luckily for the Bengals, they escaped with both the victory and a health Burrow, as well as the top spot in the AFC North, while the Ravens will be fighting for a playoff spot for the rest of the season.