Yes, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow did watch the first Joe-Tua Bowl, the Dec. 22, 2019 game in Miami between the Bengals and Dolphins.
"That determined where I was going, it seemed like," said Burrow before Tuesday's practice leading up to Thursday night's NFL rematch with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (8:15 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 9) at Paycor Stadium.
"So I was definitely cued into it."
The Bengals lost in overtime, 38-35, giving them the first draft pick of the 2020s. But not before they erased a 35-12 deficit in the last six minutes of regulation that included scoring a record 16 points in the last 29 seconds to tie it.
Burrow was most definitely watching when his predecessor, Andy Dalton, hung it up for tight end Tyler Eifert from 25 yards away for the TD with no time left that gave them the chance to go for two.
"They completed a Hail Mary. I was like, 'What is going on?' That was an exciting game," Burrow said.
_So Burrow went to Cincinnati No. 1 and Tua No. 5 to Miami and here we are. Burrow said he's kept in touch with Tua since their own 2019 showdown in November in which LSU's Burrow outlasted Tua and Alabama, 46-41, while Burrow threw for 393 yards.
"I texted him when he got hurt and he texted me when I got hurt," Burrow said. "He's playing well. It's exciting to see. All the quarterbacks in our draft class have been playing well. That's always exciting to see. The more talent, the better."
_Burrow also said that game against Tua marked a turning point for him.
"That told me I could do what I thought going into the season," Burrow said. "Tua was the guy for two years and to go in there and beat him, it kind of gave me a validation of what I thought about myself."
_After the first two games his longest completion was 24 yards, Burrow made sure to go up top early and often in New York Sunday. He only came up with wide receiver Tee Higgins' 45-yard catch, but he kept chucking deep and he feels like he should do it once a quarter.
No matter what's going on.
"I just think we've got to get those guys opportunities, no matter the coverage," Burrow said of his receivers. "They are just so good that we've got to find ways to get them the ball down the field, whether they're open or not because they are going to make plays for us."
_Burrow, long-time Cavaliers fan pumped by the trade, recently reached out to the newest Cav, Donovan Mitchell.
"I just said, 'Welcome to Ohio. If you ever want to come to a game, let me know.' He said the same. We're going to stay in touch," Burrow said. "They've been getting better and better every year. Obviously I grew up back in the LeBron era, so that was exciting for me, watching that. Now we get a guy like Donovan to go out and do what he's going to do. I'm excited to watch."
_Make no mistake. The Bengals secondary has high regard for Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Free safety Jessie Bates III referred to him as a generational player before Tuesday's practice.
But he also saw Hill saying he owes Bengals cornerback Eli Apple. Presumably for Apple changing the tide of last year's AFC title game, when he tackled Hill on the Bengals 1 as time ran out in a first half the Chiefs led, 21-10.
"If somebody comes after Eli, he comes after all of us. We're all up for the challenge," Bates said. "I didn't know if Eli bought him tickets the Super Bowl or not. I think that's probably why he's a little upset. So we'll see."
_The No. 1 cornerback opposite Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, has been so good since he got here in free agency that defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo usually puts him on the team's best receiver. But with another speedster on the other side of Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Anarumo isn't saying where he's putting him this week.
"Speed and his deceleration, too," said Awuzie of Hill's blinding speed. "His ability to go from 100 miles per hour to zero miles per hour is really good."