Burrow And His Offense File Away Lessons From Soldier Field

Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon in action Sunday.
Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon in action Sunday.

CHICAGO - Joe Burrow bounced off the ropes in Sunday's fourth quarter. Now his offense has to follow suit next week at Pittsburgh's unfriendly confines at Heinz Field by learning the lessons of Soldier Field.

After throwing three straight interceptions in less than three minutes, Burrow's last two passes of a 20-17 loss were touchdowns on a day the Bengals offered too little too late against the rejuvenated Bears.

It was a stunning stretch for the Bengals precocious quarterback stalking his first fourth-quarter comeback victory and first road victory all in one swoop. When he took a shotgun snap on third-and-3 from the Bears 48 with 11:07 left in a game the Bengals trailed, 10-7, he had thrown 199 straight passes without an interception.

Even rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who seen Burrow do just about it all, had never seen that. But he know what this week would be like.

"I've never seen Joe do that myself. I'm pretty sure he's going to go back to practice, look at the film and see what he messed up on and make sure he made the right calls with the O-Line, just trying to improve himself," said Chase, who caught one of the touchdowns. "Carry the team on his back, as he should. I don't know what to expect. I just expect him to go back to practice and get the job done and look forward to the next game."

In classic Burrow fashion, he was plotting his next move after watching the Bears defensive backs jump, sit and abscond with the his receivers' routes.

"We'll have to watch the film and reflect on everything. It's tough to say anything right now without watching the film," Burrow said of the secondary being so aggressive. "You've got to throw the ball over their head. At least make them feel like you are going to be able to do that and call some plays that go over their head."

But Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knew he was going to get a monstrous pass rush from the Bears and he was right. How much time was Burrow to have to go long? Burrow got hit nine times and four of them were sacks.

In order to counter that, Taylor switched up things from last week. A week after he put Burrow under center 53 percent of the time against the Vikings, he put him in the shotgun 74 percent of the time with the emphasis on the spread look and empty backfield.

"We wanted to get the ball out quick in empty. They got a great front, one of the better fronts you'll see in this game. They've done a great job there. We thought we had some good matchups elsewhere," Taylor said.

So the game plan wasn't geared for the Bengals to go deep all that often. Burrow completed only two balls longer than 20 yards and he was 17 of 30 with his receivers having trouble getting away from the coverage on the quick throws as the Bears got their hands on eight passes.

Yet to see the film, Taylor wasn't making any pronouncements. He wanted to make sure his team came out of here remembering what it felt like to make four turnovers in an easily winnable game on the road.

Taylor and Burrow called it learning lessons.

Taylor said he took this as a lesson:

Trailing 7-0 on their first drive, they had first down at the Bears 35. Burrow went empty and quick on first and second down that were well covered incompletions. Then on third and 10 Burrow tried to go deep, but a twist by Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack strafed the left side of the offensive line.

"I wish I could take that call back. Took a sack, out of field range," Taylor said. "That would have given us seven to three there and a little bit of momentum there, just to get points on the board against a team like that. I kick myself for that call."

Here was one of Burrow's lessons and he talked as if he had already logged it in his head:

Within 10-3 and 11:07 left in the game from the Bears 48, Burrow went shotgun on third-and-three. A few plays before he had hit slot receiver Tyler Boyd for a 22-yard gain across the middle and he was looking that way again. So was Bears linebacker Roquan Smith. He lined up in the middle but drifted and drifted and drifted toward Boyd setting up for the catch in the left seam. Burrow apparently never saw Smith.

Pick-six: 17-3.

"He just pushed really fast. We went four to his side and he made a really good play," Burrow said. "You can tell that he has studied that play before and he has seen it and he pushed really fast and made a really good play."

On his next throw cornerback Jaylon Johnson knew Burrow was going quick and he jumped the out route to wide receiver Tee Higgins for another pick.

"They have a good pass rush. We tried to get it out quick and they knew we had a good pass rush and were going to get it out quick. They just started sitting on all of our routes," Burrow said.

"That's just me trying to force the ball, trying to get something going. You learn a lesson today that when your defense is playing as well as they are you don't have to force the balls you can just kind of let the game come to you."

Burrow didn't force anything on the third interception. Running back Joe Mixon missed his block on a safety blitz and the ball got batted in the air.

"When you got a front like that that can get after the quarterback, it allows them to play quarters, play a little bit more aggressive and jump some of those routes that we threw on the pick to Tee," Taylor said. "That's the beauty of having one of the premier defensive lines in the NFL that they have."

Chase caught his second long touchdown of the year on a 42-yarder, but he's joining Taylor and Burrow back at the drawing board. He wondered how the Bears DBs were able to sit on the Bengals receivers and they couldn't get anything done deep early.

"We could've been (doing) that bro, honestly," Chase told the reporters. "We waited to the last-minute to take shots. We knew they were sitting the whole game. I was telling Joe. Tee knew. We've got to capitalize on the stuff we see early in the game.

"It's just conversation. All communication. I'm not blaming it on nobody. It's communication where we all need to be on the same page. That way we can all make sure we know what we're doing. When Joe sees (something), or tell him what we see. It's just communicating with the quarterback and offense."

The talks continue this week with Taylor reinforcing the lesson of Soldier Field.

"I've talked often about a game I played here in 2018 where you learn similar lessons," Taylor said. "It's a low scoring game and you have a bunch of turnovers and they capitalize and they beat you. We're going to play a lot of great defenses in this league and we feel like we have a really good offense and a really good defense. And we just have to do a better job playing complementary football and winning those road games."

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