Regardless of whether Ravens coach John Harbaugh did (privately) or didn’t (publicly) grouse about the decision of the Bengals to dial up pass plays late in a 41-21 game that Cincinnati led, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow makes no apologies for a 52-yard catch and run with two minutes on the clock.
“This is the NFL,” Burrow told PFT after the game by phone. “This isn’t peewee, this isn’t high school where you go out and run up the score. You play until the final whistle. I don’t care what the score is. We’ve been in spots where teams go out and do that to us. They did it to us last year. No sympathy from me.”
Last year, the Ravens beat the Bengals 27-3 and 38-3.
Burrow admitted during our conversation that he was aware of the possibility of 500 passing yards (he finished with 525, fourth highest of all time for a single game), and that the Bengals were trying to get there. During his press conference after the game, Burrow also said that a comment made during the week by Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale that Burrow isn’t ready for a “gold jacket” wasn’t “necessary,” and that he “maybe” was thinking about that at the end of the game.
Regardless of the motivation, the only relevant question late in a game is whether those extra snaps put players at undue injury risk. That was the criticism of the Ravens in Week Four at Denver, when they opted to run the ball in lieu of taking a knee in order to preserve a streak of 100-yard rushing games. If Burrow had gotten injured on a pass play during garbage time, the Bengals fairly would have been criticized for unnecessarily putting him in harm’s way.