The 2-2 Bengals head to 2-2 Baltimore for a Sunday night extravaganza (8:20 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) and a decisive AFC North game that conjures up last October's game for first place.
It's been about 50 weeks since the 4-2 Bengals went down there and stunned the Ravens, not to mention the world, 41-17, and forged a first-place tie in a game the men who made it possible agree marked a turning point in the drive for the division title and AFC championship.
"We'd had a good season up to that point, but winning at Baltimore the way we did kind of proved to ourselves that we were who we thought we were," said quarterback Joe Burrow before Wednesday's practice. "And we just built from that point on and we are looking to have that same thing happen this season."
Burrow pitched 416 yards that day, 201 of them going to Ja'Marr Chase that heralded the beginning of his assault on the NFL rookie receiving records.
"That game showed we knew how to close out a game," said Chase, whose stupefying 82-yard-he's-there-and-gone touchdown is still the longest play of his career. "We went into their stadium knowing they had one of the great quarterbacks and they could run the ball. I think our defense did a great job going in there and taking over that territory."
The last time they met, Chase said, here in Paycor Stadium on Dec. 26, he had never seen anything like it. On some snaps the Ravens actually doubled all three receivers and Chase watched running mate Tee Higgins still haul down a 52-yard catch.
It will be recalled that Burrow had a Bengals-record 525 yards in that 41-21 win against a decimated Baltimore secondary without Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
Those guys are back and Burrow calls them the best cornerback duo he's faced this season. Chase doesn't expect either Baltimore cornerbacks to follow him and that he'll stay on their sides with Humphrey on the left and Peters and his NFL-best 32 interceptions since 2015 on the right.
But Chase certainly expects to get doubled. It's happened every game this year, the most attention he's ever received, he says. It's cut down on his production, which is still top 15 stuff with 293 yards, 25 catches and two touchdowns.
"I'm pissed when I don't always don't get my number called and I'm doubled," Chase admitted. "I want the ball. I'm a feisty receiver. It doesn't always work that way, but as long as we come out with a win I'm OK with that."
FOUNDATION BUILDING: Earlier this week Burrow unveiled his non-profit foundation that is designed to help meet the needs of families who are working to overcome food insecurity and childhood mental health issues.
His mother, Robin Burrow, a long-time educator in the Athens, Ohio area, influenced the mental health piece.
"During the pandemic I think mental health was a big thing that everybody was talking about it because there was a lot of socialized isolation, not a lot of social activities going on," Burrow said. "One, that's very hard for people that are developing, people that are in middle school, elementary school, high school. You hear a lot of stories of young kids who were starting to learn how to talk but they didn't have anybody to talk to really. They didn't have those social environments to grow that speech pattern.
"So who knows what are going to be the effects of that going forward. It's something I think is a big deal in society, especially with all the social media going on and all the divisiveness in the country, mental health is going to play a big part in everybody's lives going forward.
CTB BUZZ: Just like you can't stop Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, you can only hope to contain him, you can't replicate Jackson in practice. You can only hope to give the defense a glance. By all accounts it sounds like rookie cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt did more than that as he had the defensive vets buzzing about his big arm as they came off the field Wednesday.
It was the second-round pick's first practice since undergoing core surgery about six weeks ago during training camp. Welcome back, kid. Taylor-Britt, named first-team All-State quarterbacking Park Crossing High School in Montgomery, Ala., rung up 1,466 yards and 16 touchdowns passing while running for 1,030 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior and apparently on Wednesday he was flinging it deep.
"Nobody can emulate No. 8," said defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo after Wednesday's practice. "Cam Taylor-Britt is giving his best effort. He did a good job."
Asked about what he's seeking from Taylor-Britt now that he's back, Anarumo said it's going to take him time to ease back in.
"I want him to be a great Lamar Jackson," Anarumo said. "He's done nothing football wise. One day at a time. Just keep getting better. Learn how to be a DB again.
TUA TALK: Burrow said he reached out to Tua as he progresses from the concussion he suffered Thursday night at Paycor. He also said he's had some issues playing the game.
"Stuff like that happens all the time … I've never had a headache the next day from a concussion. But I've had games, high school, college, NFL, that maybe I don't remember the rest of the game but I don't have any side effects other than that. So I don't know if you would call that a concussion or not. But definitely some kind of head injury for sure."
Burrow said it hasn't scared him
"Unfortunately, it's part of the game we play," he said.
But he realizes the NFL has a tough job on its hands.
"I don't think there's a lot you can do when a player, if he's withholding symptoms or he wants to go back out there and not telling you, I have a headache, I'm a little dizzy," Burrow said. "There's not a lot you can do if he's withholding symptoms unless you want to go down the road of taking a healthy player out when maybe he actually doesn't have a concussion but the play looked like he did. I think it's a tough spot. I think the league does a good job for the most part if there is a tough hit they get the guy out of there and they go evaluate him. If he is good they send him back in. If he's not they take him out. It's a tough job. I'm glad I don't have that job, for sure. "
INJURY UPDATE: Head coach Zac Taylor said he'll rest right tackle La'el Collins on Wednesdays and practice him Thursdays and Fridays. So he did this Wednesday, a practice tight end Devin Asiasi (ankle) also sat out. Wide receiver Tee Higgins (knee), kicker Evan McPherson (groin) and tight end Hayden Hurst (groin) went limited.