The young, electric quarterback never had a chance of winning the Super Bowl as his outclassed offensive line crumbled under fire.
How quickly it seems to forget that the biggest story of Super Bowl LV — the Chiefs’ inability to protect Patrick Mahomes — could play itself out again on Sunday if the Bengals’ shaky offensive line makes Joe Burrow’s potential magic insane.
“I’m not caught up in this,” Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack said. “It’s a great story for [media] and fans to worry about. Not for us. I always tell them not to pay attention to outside noise – good, bad or indifferent.
Burrow is the first quarterback in history to reach the Super Bowl after being sacked at least 50 times during the regular season. The Bengals have allowed 55 total sacks over 17 games — the third in the NFL — and another 12 in three playoff games, including nine against the Titans.
“When they needed to be at their best, they rose to the occasion,” Pollack said. “We had a tough game in Tennessee, but this last practice, when we needed it, we hit all cylinders.”
A year ago, Mahomes ran for 500 yards behind the line of scrimmage on his 52 backs (49 assists plus three sacks) in the blowout Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers, according to NextGenStats. The Chiefs couldn’t overcome the absence of their top two tackles and top two guards.
The Bengals still have three of their season-opening five starters, but the right side of the line is a major question mark. Isaiah Prince starts at the tackle for injured veteran Riley Reiff, while Jackson Carman and second-year pro Hakeem Adenjii rotate to guard. Such is the other side of a tough-to-discuss decision to sign rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase instead of tackling Penei Sewell in the first round.
“I have a ton of confidence in our guys up front,” offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. “They are battle tested. They played tough games. They made mistakes. They dropped the bags. They keep coming back and fighting. That’s all you can ask for at this time of year.
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The Bengals ranked 30th in pass block win rate during the regular season. The Rams – along with Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd – led the league in win rate. That’s the stuff of a lag, especially if the Bengals fall behind early, like they did in the AFC Championship Game or like the Chiefs did in the last Super Bowl.
“When you [face] talented guys, sometimes you want to step out of yourself and do a little bit too much because you think it will help you,” center Trey Hopkins said. “It ends up hurting you because guys like Donald and Miller, they take advantage of offensive linemen who play bad technique.”
A pass-running counter move the Bengals could use that wasn’t available to the one-dimensional Chiefs is a strong running play: NFL 3rd rusher (Joe Mixon) vs. 3rd rush defense (Rams) .
“We may not have a full line of Pro Bowlers,” Callahan said, “But we have some guys who play really hard and play well together. We expect a big game out of them.
New York Post