The first half of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow‘s NFL career featured his first rushing touchdown and an introduction to a professional pass rush.
Burrow didn’t get any preseason games to face a defense trying to plant him in the turf and the Chargers didn’t wait to introduce Burrow to that aspect of the game. The first overall pick was sacked three times and hit on six occasions by Chargers defenders over the course of the first half.
That didn’t stop the Bengals from heading into the locker room with a lead. Burrow’s 23-yard touchdown run put the Bengals up 7-0 in the first quarter and they are up 7-6 after a pair of Michael Badgley field goals in the second quarter.
When Burrow wasn’t being sacked, he was 9-of-14 for 51 yards as the Bengals have kept things pretty simple in the passing game. That may have been the case for the rookie under any circumstances, but the inability to keep the Chargers out of the backfield is likely also playing a role.
Tyrod Taylor has put the ball up more often and finished the half 10-of-20 for 158 yards. Austin Ekeler‘s added 57 yards on 11 carries, but the failure to translate those gains into touchdowns leaves them trying to come from behind in the final 30 minutes of action in Cincinnati.