Super Bowl 56 didn’t go the way the Cincinnati Bengals had hoped. Their 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams stings, but there were plenty of positive moments on Sunday that should make the reigning AFC champions excited about both the short- and long-term future.
The obvious starting point is quarterback Joe Burrow. Despite being sacked seven times and nearly tearing the one good knee he has left, Burrow never looked overmatched or ill-equipped to handle the sport’s biggest stage. He completed 22-of-33 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown and while he didn’t have any particularly memorable moment, his calm and cool demeanor should have Bengals fans feeling really good about their chances of getting back to the big game.
“We’re probably as hungry now as we were before the game,” Burrow said Sunday. “Not just for us, but for the fans as well.”
Arguably a bigger takeaway than Burrow’s preparedness from Super Bowl 56 was rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s remarkable talent. It’s not like we didn’t know he was one of the NFL’s most exciting big-play weapons, but the fact he was able to routinely beat all-world cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a field flipping play like this one is simply scary:
WHAT. A. CATCH.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 14, 2022
His ability to separate from Ramsey at the top of his route — to kick into an extra gear that not only left Ramsey in his dust but also allowed him to close on what appeared to be an overthrown ball — was just incredible. The most appropriate word to describe Ja’Marr Chase at this point is rare. And remember: he dominated the NFL’s top cornerbacks despite not playing in 2020 as a COVID opt-out.
Burrow to Chase has the potential to be a historic NFL passing duo. They proved in 2021 that the chemistry they built at LSU in 2019 is still burning hot, and they’re just getting started. Chase finished his rookie season with 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns, all with Burrow barely having any time to throw the ball.
If the Bengals can get their offensive line fixed this offseason, the numbers put up by Chase in 2021 will become routine. Give Burrow more time to throw — and Chase more time to separate from defenders — and the results will be nothing short of spectacular in 2022 and beyond.