‘Higher ship these refunds’ — Joe Burrow’s grip on AFC stays agency as he is not able to bow to Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes

Joe Burrow is the soul-snatching, dream-stealing, January-villain of the AFC. Patrick Mahomes could also be higher. Josh Allen is actually stronger. Each have extra commercials.

Neither, nonetheless, is as unflappable or as unbeatable because the Cincinnati quarterback. At the least not of late.

Buffalo had him the place it wished him on Sunday, inside a Western New York snow globe, surrounded by the Payments’ table-busting Mafia. That included no less than Damar Hamlin, inspirationally wanting down via the flakes.

All of Buffalo had been ready one 12 months and 13 seconds for this, one other shot within the divisional spherical, one other likelihood on the Chiefs, one other push towards the Tremendous Bowl. If not final 12 months, then what 12 months, they puzzled? Properly, if not now, then when?

Perhaps when Burrow retires, which, contemplating he’s 26 years outdated, goes to be awhile.

Cincinnati 27, Buffalo 10, and for Burrow and his Bengals, it is back to Kansas City, where they won the AFC title last year. For the Payments it’s again to historic distress.

“Domination,” Burrow mentioned on CBS after. “From begin to end.”

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 22: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals calls a play against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

Joe Burrow regarded comfy in Buffalo’s snowy situations on Sunday. He went 23-of-36 for 242 passing yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati’s victory. (Picture by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Photographs)

It wasn’t simply Burrow’s on-field efficiency, though that was spectacular. He completed 23-of-36 for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He additionally rushed for 31 yards. The Bengals’ capability to regulate each traces of scrimmage was the most important distinction maker, however that was some elite quarterback play, particularly below the circumstances.

“Felt like soccer,” Burrow mentioned. “It was enjoyable.”

As a lot as something, it’s his demeanor, his confidence, his curiosity, not cowardice, within the face of a playoff setting out of the Payments’ wildest creativeness — snow, chilly and noise.

All of that perspective rubs off on his teammates, on his coaches, on a whole group and fan base that was often called a lot for its demoralizing despair, a lot of it self-inflicted.

The Bengals, based in 1968, gained 5 playoff video games of their historical past earlier than Burrow arrived because the No. 1 draft select of LSU.

They’ve gained 5 since, together with three on the street.

“Joe Burrow, unbelievable,” working again Joe Mixzon mentioned. “In video games like this, he at all times rises to the event.”

This isn’t nearly Burrow’s capability to drop passes into tight spots or keep away from turnovers or play at his finest when his finest was most wanted.

On this case, it was the beginning of the sport, the place behind a lot emotion and pleasure, the Payments regarded to set the tone and the temper. As an alternative Burrow went 4-for-4 for 64 yards and a landing on the opening drive. When Buffalo went three-and-out, the Bengal pounced. Burrow went 5-for-5 for 41 yards and one other landing.

Similar to that Cincy led 14-0 and Buffalo by no means totally recovered from the necessity to press, whereas surrounded by the strain that comes from a fan base accustomed to doom.

And when Buffalo trimmed Cincy’s result in 17-10 halfway via the third quarter, Burrow (and Mixon) shut the door with a 12-play, 75-yard landing drive that bleed a valuable 6:31 off the clock.

Cincinnati had arrived as a 5.5.-point underdog, regardless of being the reigning AFC champions. It’s not that nobody thought the Bengals may win, however few thought they’d beat the brakes off the Payments like this.

“Job’s not completed,” Burrow mentioned. “Acquired one other large one subsequent week on the street.”

That may be a journey to play the Chiefs once more. A 12 months in the past Cincy arrived and Burrow outdueled Mahones, successful 27-24 in extra time in one of many hardest locations to play within the league. The Bengals misplaced to the Los Angeles Rams within the Tremendous Bowl, however the tone was set, even when too few folks appear to comprehend.

Perhaps the expected NFL narrative featured the AFC being run by both Mahomes or Allen for the years to return, however Burrow has now defeated each within the playoffs.

And the place the NFL rewrote its guidelines to arrange a impartial web site AFC title recreation if it was between Kansas Metropolis and Buffalo — a mini Tremendous Bowl if you’ll — nicely, right here was Cincinnati ruining that experiment.

“Higher ship these refunds,” he crowed concerning the tickets bought for a recreation that gained’t happen.

“We simply preserve screwing it up for everybody,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor deadpanned. “I hate that. We simply preserve screwing it up. So … sorry.”

If something, Burrow may be even higher away from Cincinnati. Nothing appears to faze him. Not the massive stuff. Not the small both.

He’s an Ohio child, who couldn’t win the job at Ohio State, solely to shrug his shoulders and go win a Heisman Trophy and nationwide title at LSU and return because the Bengals’ savior.

You suppose some snow showers and crowd noise are going to rattle him?

“It’s going to be a enjoyable one,” Burrow mentioned. “It’s going to be a terrific ambiance.”

Perhaps some in Kansas Metropolis believed that final 12 months, however he proved them fallacious. To allow them to pack Arrowhead in crimson and level to the expected temperature within the teenagers, however that can seemingly make him solely stronger.

“I believe we’re a extra full workforce [this year],” Burrow mentioned. “I believe we’re a greater workforce. General, I simply suppose we’re a greater workforce than we had been final 12 months. We are inclined to make performs when it counts.”

Deliver it on, Burrow is saying. Deliver on the Chiefs. These aren’t the Bungles anymore and the AFC isn’t nearly Mahomes and Allen.

Joe Burrow and Cincinnati run the convention proper now, at the least till somebody proves in any other case.

Previous post Damar Hamlin Attends Buffalo Payments Playoff Recreation In Individual; Cincinnati Bengals Win & Advance To AFC Championship
Next post Canucks president Jim Rutherford apologizes for the way Bruce Boudreau firing was dealt with