NFL: Say it ain’t so, Joe!

719
Derick E. Hingle/New Orleans Saints Pool Photo

Joe Burrow has become the next casualty in what has been a precarious season for starting quarterbacks in the National Football League … Saints’ win without Brees … Dalton returns and Cowboys end slide.

By Aaron S. Lee

A promising rookie season has come to an end for Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback Joe Burrow.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, who led LSU to the school’s fourth national championship in January, finds himself out for the season after being sandwiched during Sunday’s 20-9 loss to the Washington Football Team.

The first overall pick in the 2020 draft took to Twitter after being carted off FedEx Field with a reported torn ACL in the second half to acknowledge his fans and hint to the extent of his injury.

“Thanks for all the love. Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year,” Burrow tweeted.

Before going down in the third quarter, the 23-year-old was 22-of-34 for 203 yards with one touchdown and was on pace to become the first rookie in NFL history to have six 300-yard passing games in his first 10 appearances.  

“He was making improvements every week,” said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor of his rookie starter. “We were getting the offense headed in a direction that we thought was exciting.”

According to ESPN, Burrow ranks fourth in NFL history for the most passing yards (2,688) in a player’s first 10 games, including his total from Sunday.

At the halfway mark of the season, Burrow was on pace to break Andrew Luck’s record for most passing yards as a rookie (4,374).

The Bengals finished the game with Ryan  Finley under center. Finley, who went 3-of-10 for 30 yards in Burrow’s absence, spoke highly of the team’s fallen starter.

“I didn’t really have many words,” reflected Finley on Burrow’s unexpected exit. “I didn’t know what to say other than I hope he recovers very soon, because he’s a hell of a player. It’s been a lot of fun watching this first half of the season.”

With the loss, the Bengals fall to 2-7-1 overall and are set to host the New York Giants on Sunday.

Saints continue streak sans Brees

The “Taysom Hill Experiment” continues to pay off for the New Orleans Saints. The team’s Swiss Army Knife was called upon to replace starter Drew Brees, who is currently sidelined with fractured ribs for the foreseeable future.

Despite the Saints’ sluggish start, falling behind 9-3 in the second quarter, Hill remained consistent throughout, going 18-of-23 for 233 yards and eventually led the team to a 24-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons (3-7).

Hill did not make many huge plays, but more importantly he did not make any huge mistakes either. The only hiccup coming from a fourth-quarter fumble — the fifth time Hill’s dropped the ball this season.

The 30-year-old out of BYU targeted All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas 12 times — finding him on nine receptions for 104 yards. His biggest play of note came on a 44-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders in the second half.

And in true “Taysom Hill” form, he rushed for a team-high 51 yards on 10 carries and punched it in for two touchdowns.

“Overall, I was happy with what we did,” Hill told media after his debut start at QB. “You know, I think the first thing is, you come out, you look at turnovers and I was really disappointed that I put the ball on the ground late in the game. (I) felt that was a drive where we could have just put the game away.

“But overall, without looking at the film and really breaking everything down, I was happy with the way that I played,” he continued. “I was happy with the way that my teammates played. And man, it was a collective effort to get this win.”

With their seventh win in a row, the Saints move to an NFC best 8-2 overall record and hold a one-game lead over NFC South rivals Tampa Bay, a team they have already swept in two games played this season.

The Saints are also a perfect 6-0 without Brees dating back to the five games the NFL’s all-time passing leader missed last season in which current Carolina Panthers starter Teddy Bridgewater successfully filled the position.

Dalton returns, stops Dallas skid

And just like that, with a 31-28 win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys snapped a four-game losing streak with the team’s first road win of the season to put themselves back in NFC East contention with six games to play.

No.1 backup Andy Dalton, who replaced starter and former Haughton Buccaneer Dak Prescott in Week 5 due to a season-ending injury, returned to action after recovering the past month from a concussion and Covid-19 protocols.

Dalton previously started two games, both losses, before beings spelled by fellow backups Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert a game apiece — again, both losses.

Dalton went 22-of-32 for 203 yards with one interception and three touchdowns, including the winning score — a 2-yard pass to Dalton Schultz with 1:37 to play.

“Andy’s a guy that’s played a lot of ball,” said Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliot, who recorded his first 100-yard game of the season after gaining 103 yards on 21 carries.

“He’s a vet. I think he’s in Year 10. He’s been in that moment a bunch of times. We trust him. He was definitely clutch and came up big at the end.”

With a win on Thanksgiving Day against visiting Washington, the Cowboys, currently 3-7 overall, could find themselves atop the NFC East as after 10 games no team in the division has won more than three games.

— Featured photo of Taysom Hill courtesy of the New Orleans Saints