GLENDALE, Ariz. _ Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase were on the same page all day, a day the 2-3 Bengals hung within a game of the AFC North lead, and they agreed on this, too.
Sunday's win had all the whiff of last year's fourth quarter win in the Fourth Quarter, a road win in New Orleans that shoved them to 3-3 and they went on to win 11 of the next 12 and reached the AFC title game.
'This kind of feels like last year in New Orleans a little bit. It means nothing if you don't go out there and build on it," Burrow said after their first road win of the year and first win ever in five road games against the Cardinals. "I knew we had to win it. We had to win in New Orleans last year too. So similar feeling."
In that one, he hooked up with Chase right after the two-minute warning for a go-ahead touchdown to cap a day Burrow showed up at the Mercedes-Benz Dome wearing Chase's No. 1 jersey from the night they led LSU to the national championship.
In this one, Burrow hit Chase all day for three touchdowns and a Bengals-record 15 catches.
"Definitely, you could say that," Chase said. "We definitely needed this win. We needed that New Orleans win bad, too. I just want to say we're making the right steps forward right now. Just keep pushing and moving forward."
If you want to know if Burrow is back from the strained right calf that turned a Cincinnati summer into winter, just look at the day his gridiron soul mate had at State Farm Stadium. His most catches ever, his third most yards ever with 192, the Bengals' longest play of the year with that throwback bomb for a 63-yard touchdown.
No one has thrown more 40-yard-plus touchdowns over the last two years than Burrow and he did his first one of this year with a flourish. According to X, the 58 yards is the longest pass Burrow has thrown through the air in his career.
"Outstanding throw," Chase said. "Joe told me after the play, 'I didn't overthrow you that time.'"
One of the plays that sold Burrow himself that this was the best he's felt and played was a signature 10-yard run up the middle in the third quarter. Something he does all the time but had yet to do this year. And he did it complete with dropping the ball a la dropping the mic while giving the first down signal.
Burow smiled. "Yes," he said when asked if that meant he's got it back. But Chase thought the second run was more telling than the first.
"When I saw him take off the second time," Chase said. "Not the first time, but the second time. I thought it was crazy the second time, honestly."
But they were on the same page about his hellacious first touchdown throw ending the first drive as Burrow got out of pocket to the right and went back left for a two-yard touchdown pass.
"He was moving in the pocket a good bit on that play if I'm not mistaken. He looked really good from my perspective," Chase said. "When I saw him look at me that's when I got out of my route and he just got me the ball."
Burrow felt the same thing on the same play as soulmates do.
"I was able to slide right, plant my leg, throw back across my body, and after that I felt like I was pretty good," Burrow said. "Obviously there have been a lot of moments where I thought it was good and it turned out not to be, so I have got to keep getting healthier, keep working on it, keep working on my body and it'll be good."
But take a look at that third touchdown from the Cards 3, the one that sealed it with less than eight minutes left and gave Chase the record. Chase went to run a slant, but it was walled off and then, like the old days, he started scrambling with Burrow.
"I just stayed with Joe like a scramble drill," Chase said. "I'm always alert when he's running. It doesn't matter if he's in the pocket still. If the play breaks down, I'm always alert to get out of there and try to make a play for the team."
Maybe you also really know Burrow is back because head coach Zac Taylor is telling him to throw away touchdowns again.
"I can't tell you how many times on the headset we said throw the ball away on his touchdown to Ja'Marr there on the goal line. We said it a lot," Taylor said. "Those two just found a way to make a play and the line held the guys off of him. It was good to see him move around today."
Or maybe you knew Seamless Joe and Joe Shiesty and Joe Cool and all his nicknames are back because before he left the podium he ran through his "free," outfit, an eclectic collection from sweatshirt to shoes.
"The sweatshirt was made by my friend Micah that I went to high school with. And the shoes are from my friend Scott, who most people know of as Kid Cudi," said Burrow of the world-renowned musical artist from Cleveland. "All my friends put this outfit together for me, so I got great friends."
But no greater friend than Ja'Marr Anthony Chase, who gave him Sunday's greatest gift of all. An oasis in Arizona that served as a dusty metaphor for 2023.
"It felt fun, let me say that," Chase said. "It didn't feel normal. It felt fun. It's fun when you're having fun."