BALTIMORE _ Like Bengals right tackle Jonah Williams said after Thursday night’s 34-20 loss to the Ravens here at M&T Bank Stadium, “News to me.”
Even Joe Burrow’s teammates weren’t quite sure what happened to their Pro Bowl teammate. One minute he was throwing a go-ahead four-yard touchdown pass to running back Joe Mixon with 5:49 left in the first half. The next thing they knew, backup Jake Browning was in the huddle and Burrow was on the sideline with a wrist injury.
After the game, head coach Zac Taylor called it a sprain, but had no idea when he could return. He appeared to pop something breaking a fall at some point, maybe even on the play before the touchdown. It has to be assumed he’ll be undergoing tests Friday as the Bengals break for the weekend after meeting at Paycor Stadium.
“It looked like he sprained his wrist. He fell on it early in the game and then felt it on the touchdown pass,” Taylor said.
Mixon was just finding out as he packed up his locker.
“I didn’t know at all,” Mixon said. “They were saying, ‘Where’s Joe?’ when we went out there before the end of the half and, sure enough, he wasn’t out there and after that it was what it was.
“When he went out, people were feeling a certain type of way, especially him because he’s such a competitor. But everyone still stuck in there and did what we could to fight.”
Mixon spoke to the team after the game and said it was pretty much about sticking together, but he wanted to keep it in-house.
“We kept after it,” said Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, now the answer to a trivia question after catching Jake Browning’s first NFL touchdown pass on a two-yard fade with 68 seconds left.
“Obviously when you lose your starting quarterback that’s tough but I felt like our guys knew we were still in the game and kept fighting,” Taylor said. “It didn’t go our way. We didn’t get enough points on the board. We didn’t find enough ways to keep points off the board. I really felt guys kept the right mindset as the game went on, we just didn’t get it done.”
Taylor said Burrow had no problem with the wrist coming into the game and when asked how he thought Burrow looked during the week and before the injury, he said, “Really good.” And he was. He hit seven straight passes before he left and a had a triple digit passer rating.
BROWNING BALL: Could it have been any tougher on Browning to make what amounted to his debut, since he thew just one pass in the opener? Here were the big, bad Ravens on Blackout Night, the NFL leaders in sacks and scoring defense, and they sacked him three times after getting Burrow twice. His biggest play was a 34-yard pass interference penalty on a loft to wide receiver Trenton Irwin.
“He did a hell of a job. It’s a tough Baltimore defense,” said slot receiver Tyler Boyd, who had three catches for 22 yards, all from Burrow. “If it had been any other team, he might have been able to get more done. But we knew when he came in we were going to get a lot more pressure.”
Browning finished eight of 14 for 68 yards. Chase had two catches for 12 yards on seven targets. The dozen yards were the second fewest of his career and his lowest since his rookie year in Denver.
TOUGH FOR D, TOO: The defense didn’t escape the injury bug and lost their top cornerback when Cam Taylor-Britt injured his quad covering Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman on a 10-yard touchdown pass that gave Baltimore a 21-10 lead with 23 seconds left in the first half.
That was a metaphor for what the defense went through four days after Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud hit them for 356 yards and eight passes of at least 20 yards. On Thursday one-time MVP Lamar Jackson threw seven of at least 20 among a total of 264 yards. With Taylor-Britt out of the game, Odell Beckham Jr., capped off his 116-yard night on four catches with a 51-yarder.
“It’s big. He’s a top two quarterback in this league,” said slot cornerback Mike Hilton of Burrow’s loss. “It definitely makes it harder, but no excuses. Next man up. Especially on the defense and we have to turn our notch up a little more and try to get our offense on short fields. We feel like he’ll be ready for next week.
“The division might be out of reach, but we still have a chance to get to the playoffs and that’s our main goal. I feel like if we get to the playoffs, we’ll be a scary team to face.”
Taylor and his staff have nine days to get ready for another AFC slugfest when Pittsburgh comes in Nov. 26.
“One game at a time. It starts with Pittsburgh. We got a home game here, it’s a big one,” Taylor said. “Our guys will be up for this game. That’s the only thing we can control at this point so I know our guys will be excited. We’ll put this one behind us and move on to Pittsburgh.”