Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is sticking by his guns when the Bengals play the Browns again Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium.
"We feel comfortable throwing the ball and we'll do whatever it takes to win the game. Burrow has had a lot of success throwing it," Taylor said.
Burrow sees a different game unfolding Sunday than their Thursday nighter in Cleveland, where the Browns jumped up 14-3 and 21-10 and the Bengals never stopped the Browns running game. Those 215 yards rushing negated the 30 more plays and seven more minutes the Bengals had the ball, thanks to converting all five of their fourth downs.
"That was kind of a weird game. They jumped out on us early, so they played a lot more zone against us, tried to keep everything in front of them, made me take short completions up and down the field," Burrow said before Wednesday's practice. "So I anticipate a little different game.
"We dropped back 70-some times because they were rolling on offense, so we had to stay in the game. I anticipate our team to play better as a unit and keep it a little closer."
Running back Joe Mixon has played in 34 straight dating back to his 2018 knee scope. He hurt his right foot on his next-to-last carry of last Sunday's first half, which means the man must have an Empire State Building threshold of pain because his next carry was the Bull Moose seven-yard touchdown run when he dragged the Colts team picture into the end zone. But when he came back in the second half he was far from himself with 10 yards on seven carries.
If Mixon can't go, it's going to be interesting to see if they promote rookie running back Jacques Patrick, a guy that has been protected on their practice squad. He was a terror in training camp and at 6-2, 231 pounds he gives them an explosive, albeit, inexperienced big body. They have been going with three backs on the game day list, so Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine figure to be up. Would they make sophomore running back Trayveon Williams active for the first time this season or promote the bigger Patrick?
PASS GAME SYNCED UP: If they're going to throw it, the pass game is working better than it has all year coming out of Indy. With A.J. Green's season-high 96 yards, rookie Tee Higgins' first 100-yarder and slot receiver Tyler Boyd maintaining his top ten spot among NFL receivers, Burrow has some hot targets. Burrow noticed how much that game meant to not only Green, but also the team.
"I think he's going to start building on the momentum that he had last game," Burrow said. "You can kind of feel it. He's kind of has a presence around him today. I'm excited to see what he can do. "
Another sign they seem to be jelling is their first long-ball completion on that 67-yarder to Higgins, their longest play since Green's 70-yard touchdown in Nashville two years and 11 months ago. Until then, the only thing longer this year than Higgins' 30-yard-catch-and-run had been Bernard's 42-yard screen pass.
"It felt good. It did," Burrow said. "It was on a third and nine and the corner tried to jump our little out route and I threw it over the top. So that was good. We've got to keep that going."
Boyd knew Green's day was coming.
"I felt that he always played great, he stayed detailed and he did we had to do to keep the chains rolling," Boyd said. "Whenever his name is called then you know he's going to make that play, and now he's starting to rally up. It looked like an overall great offense when you see all three of us out there dominating. That's the offense everybody wanted to see. But I don't think A.J. was held back or it was, was anything wrong with them I just felt like the game just had to come down."
But isn't there always an Ohio State cornerback in the way? Burrow, the former Buckeye backup, knows all about Browns cornerback Denzel Ward's eight passes defensed.
"Denzel's playing like one of the best corners in the league," Burrow said. "I'm excited to compete against him for several years. He's a really good player, fast, strong, violent through the catch point. He's really, really good."
Boyd, who still has the seventh most catches in the league with 37 despite playing top corners Marlon Humphrey and Kenny Moore II the past two weeks, has also taken note of Ward.
"He's probably one of the top guys we faced so far. And looking back at the last couple games, against the Steelers he played very well," Boyd said. "He got beat on a double move by (James) Washington, but I think he played very sound. He can cover, he's got great speed. He's everything you want in a corner. He's got to stay disciplined on double moves and things like that but it just take some receivers to break the tendencies, to find openings and figure out how to beat corners like that."
HIGH POINT: Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski made an interesting point about Green during his Wednesday conference call with the Cincinnati media.
"His size, when you see him in person, is incredible," Stefanski said. "I mentioned earlier to our media that when the ball is in the air and it's intended for him, you kind of have to hold your breath because he's shown the ability to go up and get it. Ton of respect for him as a player. We have to make sure we're on point."
But Green said if he had to do it over again on Sunday's long ball that went off his hands when he kept them low, he would have gone up for the ball instead of waiting on it.
MUSH BALL: Left tackle Jonah Williams' favorite play of the season is not that 67-yarder or Burrow's 23-yard QB draw in the opener. He's an O-lineman, so it's that seven-yard touchdown run by Mixon in Indy that Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham characterized as a "rugby scrum."
"We really want to establish that more and say that's something we can do so when it's called on we can do this," Williams said. "We've proven we can do it. We just have to do it consistently. Indianapolis has a great D-line. They have great players there. We knew that play was being called. We were excited about that play because it was just downhill trying to maul people and I think they did some movement and we collected that on the left side and we were just pushing.
"I felt Joe behind me. Just keep running your feet until the whistle blows. I was really excited when I looked down and saw we were actually past (the goal line). I didn't realize that. It was a great feeling as an O-line and as an offense. It's unfortunate that we didn't finish the game after a moment like that. That's something that was fun to rally around."