Joe Burrow ran his record to 3-0 against the Chiefs following the Bengals' 27-24 win this past Sunday. But while he's been able to consistently beat the AFC's premier team, the Bengals' quarterback has yet to defeat the Browns, Cincinnati's in-state rival and AFC North division foe.
Burrow is 0-4 against the Browns entering Sunday's showdown in Cincinnati. In those games, Burrow has completed 68.3% of his passes with twice as many touchdowns (8) as interceptions (4). He's averaged 309 passing yards per game in those matchups while posting a passer rating of 92.6. While those are all good numbers, they haven't accounted into wins for the Bengals, who could move into sole possession of first place in the North with a win on Sunday and a Steelers win over the Ravens.
Why haven't Burrow's Bengals had more success against the Browns? To find the answer, we decided to look back at each game while finding the main reasons why Cincinnati fell short in each game.
Week 2, 2020: Browns 35, Bengals 30
- Burrow: 37 of 61, 316 yards, 3 TD's, 3 sacks
Four days after making his NFL debut, Burrow faced the Browns in Cleveland. In a reminder of how quickly things have changed in Cleveland, the Browns took a 14-3 lead in this game after Baker Mayfield launched a 43-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr.
The Bengals briefly made it a one-possession game when Randy Bullock hit a field goal after Burrow connected with C.J. Uzomah for his first career touchdown pass. Cincinnati's defense, however, had no answer for Cleveland's running back duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who each scored second-half touchdowns while rushing for a combined 210 yards and three touchdowns for the game.
The turning point came midway through the third quarter. Down 21-13, the Bengals gained momentum after D.J. Reader and Freedom Akinmoladun combined to stuff Chubb on fourth-and-goal on the Bengals' 2-yard-line. But five plays after the Bengals' defensive stand, the Browns got the ball back after Myles Garrett's strip sack of Burrow, giving Cleveland the ball at the 1-yard-line. Chubb scored two plays later to increase Cleveland's lead to 15 points.
Down 35-23 late, Burrow hit Tyler Boyd on a 9-yard strike to cut the Bengals' deficit to five points. The Browns recovered the ensuing onside kick, preserving the win while dropping Burrow's Bengals to 0-2.
Week 7, 2020: Browns 37, Bengals 34
- Burrow: 35 of 47, 406 yards, 3 TD's, 1 INT, 4 sacks
For one of the few times in his career, Burrow was outplayed by his counterpart. Burrow played a strong game, but Mayfield played better in leading the Browns to a three-point win on the road. The former Brown and new Rams quarterback went 22 of 28 for 297 yards and five touchdowns that included the game-winning touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones with 11 seconds left.
Unlike the first game, the Bengals drew first blood when Burrow scored from a yard out. Cincinnati maintained its lead until David Njoku's 16-yard touchdown catch from Mayfield put the visitors in front early in the fourth quarter. Njoku's score was the first of five touchdowns scored in the quarter, as the two teams traded scores for the remainder of the game.
Burrow threw two touchdowns in the final frame that included his go-ahead pass to Giovani Bernard with 1:06 left. An eight-yard completion to Peoples-Jones to start the Browns' next possession, however, followed by completions of 13 and 30 yards to Rashard Higgins, set up Mayfield's dart to Peoples-Jones that completed Cleveland's season sweep of Cincinnati.
Week 9, 2021: Browns 41, Bengals 16
- Burrow: 28 of 40, 282 yards, 2 INT's, 5 sacks
Ironically, the Bengals' losses to the Browns with Burrow under center have become more lopsided since Cincinnati has risen to the top of the AFC's pecking order. Denzel Ward, a teammate of Burrow at Ohio State, set the tone of this game early when he ended the Bengals' opening drive with a 99-yard pick six.
Cincinnati responded with a scoring drive on its ensuing possession, but the Browns followed suit with three straight scoring drives on the strength of Chubb and a 60-yard touchdown from Mayfield to Peoples-Jones.
Ahead 24-10, Chubb stretched the lead to 31-10 after racing 70 yards to pay dirt on the Browns' second drive of the second half. Chubb ended the day with 163 total yards and two touchdowns.
Cincinnati showed its resilience after Joe Mixon scored to make it an 18-point game a minute into the fourth quarter. Things momentarily got more interesting after the Browns missed a field goal with 9:04 left.
Cincinnati's momentum was snuffed out moments later, however, when Grant Delpit and Greg Newsome II broke up Burrow's fourth down pass for Tee Higgins (Burrow's fourth consecutive pass attempt in as many plays). The Browns put the game away moments later when Mayfield hit Njoku for an 18-yard score.
Week 8, 2022: Browns 32, Bengals 13
Burrow: 25 of 35, 232 yards, 2 TD's, 1 INT, 5 sacks
Halloween night was full of terrifying moments for Bengals fans. Garrett ended the Browns' first drive after deflecting a Burrow pass that was picked off by A.J. Green deep in Cleveland territory. The turnover jumpstarted a defensive gridlock that wasn't broken until Chubb scored from three yards out with five minutes left until halftime. The score was set up by completions of 29 and 16 yards from Jacoby Brissett to Amari Cooper.
Ahead 11-0 at halftime, the Browns essentially ended the game on their first drive of the second half. A 26-yard completion from Brissett to Peoples-Jones set up a three-yard touchdown run by Brissett, who on the night threw for 278 yards on 17 of 22 passing. He had considerable success whenever he threw to Cooper, who caught five passes for 131 yards that included his four-yard touchdown reception that stretched the Browns' lead to 25-0 after three quarters.
The Bengals, playing without Ja'Marr Chase for the first time, finally found the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter. Burrow threw a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. He first hit Boyd on a 13-yard pass before finding Higgins for a 41-yard score with 6:40 left. Sandwiched between those scores was an 11-yard touchdown run by Chubb, thus taking the drama out of Burrow's late touchdown pass to Higgins.
Chubb rumbled for 101 yards on 23 carries, while Hunt contributed to the cause with 72 total yards on 15 touches. As has been the case with each Browns-Bengals game involving Burrow, a lack of a running game plagued the Bengals on this night. Mixon gained just 27 yards on 8 carries, as the Bengals were out-rushed 172-36.
We found three common traits in Burrow's losses to Cleveland. The Bengals surrendered the first score in three of the four games. By doing so, they allowed the Browns to play their brand of run-heavy football while giving their defense more opportunities to pin their ears back and rush Burrow. This also exposed Zac Taylor's tendency to sometimes abandon the run while getting too predictable with his play-calling.
Burrow spends too much time in these matchups on his back. He's been sacked 17 times by the Browns, who possess one of the league's best pass-rushing duos in Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. It's going to be up to the Bengals' to keep Burrow upright this time around.
Speaking of the offensive line, Cincinnati has to do a better job establishing their running game on Sunday. This shouldn't be a problem, as the Bengals have had considerable success lately with Samaje Perine filling in for Mixon, who is expected to be back after a two-game absence.
More importantly, the Bengals' defense has to do a better job containing Chubb, who averaged 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his first three games against Burrow-led Bengals. Looking to stop Chubb Sunday will be Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt, who is enjoying a breakout season while patrolling the middle of Cincinnati's defense.