Burrow remains cool as big game nears

Bengals QB says his ‘little season bubble’ keeps him focused on Rams.

Joe Burrow won’t allow himself to think about next week’s Super Bowl as anything but a regular game. His parents and agents are handling all the ticket requests and helping shield him from some of the distractions that come with outside excitement for a championship game.

The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback says he remains in his “little season bubble,” which means all eyes on the Los Angeles Rams.

Burrow and the Bengals meet the Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

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“It really doesn’t (feel different),” Burrow said Thursday in his first interview with local media since the AFC Championship. “Coming into this week, game prep, it just feels like another week. Obviously, it’s the Super Bowl and we’re going to have to eliminate as many distractions as we can but it feels normal.”

Burrow downplays the big stage he’s about to walk onto, but also embraces the opportunity to play in another big game.

Going back to his days at Athens High School, Burrow has thrived in pressure situations. In 2014, as a senior, Burrow put on a show to keep his Bulldogs competitive through a 56-52 loss to Central Catholic High School in the Division III state championship. Despite just coming up short, he set state records for passing yards, completions and touchdowns while connecting on 26 of 45 pass attempts and tallying 446 yards and six touchdowns.

As a senior at LSU in 2019, he capped an undefeated season with a record-breaking performance to lead the Tigers to a 42-25 win over Clemson in the national championship game. He threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for 58 yards and another touchdown, setting the championship game record for most passing yards and touchdowns.

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Burrow now has a chance to become the first Heisman Trophy winner to win a college national championship and Super Bowl. It would be the first Super Bowl win for the 53-year-old Bengals franchise.

“I think I’ve always played well in these kind of moments,” Burrow said. “And I think it’s just because all these moments come towards the end of the year. And I feel like I get better as the year progresses, just because you have more reps, more film under your belt. You’ve corrected all the mistakes that you’ve made and throughout the entire year. And I’m good at recalling that kind of stuff. So when you get to the end of the year, you just have all those reps banked, and you just keep getting better and better.”

Burrow hasn’t had his breakout performance this postseason yet. He threw for an impressive 348 yards against Tennessee in the second round, when he also was sacked nine times, but didn’t throw any touchdowns and the defense and special teams dominated the headlines that day.

In the other two games, Burrow passed for 250 yards or less but had two touchdowns in each of those games against Kansas City and the Raiders.

The Bengals haven’t needed a monster game from Burrow to get the job done yet, and he’s come through in key moments throughout the playoffs, getting the team in a position to win on a field goal the last two games.

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“Our defense went out there and had two turnovers in the last two to three weeks,” wide receiver Tyler Boyd said. “The offense ... we go out there and we finish it. It’s a collective job .”

Burrow wants a chance to affect the game, even if it’s not with record-breaking numbers. That’s why he said he likes being a quarterback, though he originally wanted to play running back or wide receiver. A coach in Pee Wee football, Sam Smathers, told him he was going to be a quarterback and that was it.

Now, he’s glad it worked out that way.

“I guess I thought in pee wee football we weren’t gonna throw the ball very much, so I wanted to have the ball in my hand,” Burrow said. “Obviously I’m glad it worked out the way that it did. This is my career. I don’t know if I’d be an NFL wide receiver. That’s probably a pipe dream. But I can play quarterback pretty well. And I think my favorite part about playing quarterback, there’s great players at every position in the NFL but I think only a few really affect the game in a drastic way. And I think quarterback is the one position on the field that can really affect the game on every single play. I like having the ball in my hands on every play and being able to win or lose with me.”

SUPER BOWL LVI

Bengals vs. Rams, 6:30 p.m., NBC, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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