GLENDALE, Ariz. _ Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, off yet another outing that shattered the Bengals record book with 15 catches, had a big smile after Sunday's 34-20 win at State Farm Stadium over the Cardinals.
"Is Joe Burrow back?" he was asked.
"What did he look like today? He looked pretty good to me," Chase said after his massive 192-yard day. "I'm not going to answer that, but I think y'all can see."
What you could see is the first and last of Chase's three touchdowns, both pre-calf strain red-zone rockets unleashed by Burrow. The last one, Chase's 14th and record-breaking catch from three yards out, made it 31-20 with just under eight minutes left and was the ballgame.
But it was the first one that showed Burrow the worst of the injury is behind him. It capped the Bengals' first drive for their first touchdown in the first half this season. Feeling pressure from his right at the Cards 2, Burrow moved outside tackle Jonah Williams, flipped his hips and gunned it to the left to find Chase running through a zone.
"That was big, big," said Burrow on his way to his biggest day of the season completing 78 percent of his 46 passes for 317 yards. "It's something I haven't been able to do the last couple of weeks. When your quarterback can't do that, can't scramble for first downs, can't extend the play a little bit to find some guys, it's tough to move the ball. It felt good today. I'll keep getting better, so I'm excited."
_Chase, who broke Carl Pickens' 25-year-old club of 13 catches in a game, also holds the Bengals record for yards in a game (266) and a season (1,455), asked backup quarterback Jake Browning while they were on the sidelines near the end what was the record.
Browning didn't know.
"It feels good. It wasn't my goal to break the record," Chase said. "When the ball came to me I was just trying to make as many catches that came my way."
Before finishing with 192 yards, the third best of his career, he flirted with his third 200-yard day. According to Next Gen Stats, Chase reached a top speed of 21.54 mph, the sixthh-fastest speed by a ball carrier this season and second fastest of his career.
After he danced his signature Griddy following the first one of the season, he said he was out of celebrations for the day because he's been consumed about just scoring. He was able to hand two of his TD balls to his dad and he kept the other one.
_Despite the heroics of Burrow and Chase, the play of the game was cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt's 11-yard pick-six with 1:23 left in the first half for a 17-14 halftime lead. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor deferred when they won the toss and this is why.
He ran the clock with six straight Joe Mixon runs and when the last two didn't get into the end zone from the 1, he thought they could get the ball back and he knew they were getting the ball to start the second half.
Taylor-Britt had a better idea and came up with Cards quarterback Josh Dobbs' first pick of the season and the Bengals defense's first touchdown of the season.
"That alignment is something we went over all week," Taylor-Britt said. "One of their concepts. Two (receivers) by two. Wide splits. Run the slant. Knew it was coming and made a play."
_And linebacker Germaine Pratt was having a day with a fourth-and-one-stop at the Bengals 16 late in the third quarter in a game the Bengals led, 24-20. And then his late interception to go with a team-high ten tackles.
"The stop was huge," Taylor said. "It's a four-point game and it's a turnover."
_Taylor did a classy thing when he made wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II a captain after he was elevated Saturday for just his second NFL game. Taylor knows the story. The late Kwamie Lassiter I is a Cardinals icon as a big-play safety and this is where he raised his son. This very building is where II lost a state title game his junior year in high school.
Lassiter II topped it all off Sunday, catching Burrow's last completion of the day, a two-yarder for his first NFL reception. Taylor topped it off when he gave him a game ball.
"It was special. I appreciate what Zac and the staff did," Lassiter said of the captaincy. "It was an RPO. If the ball was going to come to me, I was going to be ready for it."
Then he was gone, off to give the ball to his family before he got on the bus.
"Really classy move by Zac," said special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, who played with the first Kwamie at Kansas. 'What a great guy his dad was. It was just awesome to see and for him to get his first NFL catch back here."
It meant something to Taylor, too.
"Kwamie has been everything that we want to be around, he's done a great job on our practice squad and did a great job when his number was called last year when he came in against Tennessee when we elevated him," Taylor said. "He's a guy that's very dependable, we have a lot of trust in him. His dad was a tremendous player here in the late '90s early 2000s and I think that's a really special moment for a guy that is exactly what we want to be about, able to maybe have a moment for himself and his family to honor his late dad.
"His dad went to my Junior College, Butler County, so there's that fraternity. It's special for Kwamie, it's a bonus that he got a catch on a red alert. Hopefully it was a good moment. When the right people are doing the right things you want to find a way to draw attention to that and Kwamie is a great example."