Cincinnati Bengals star quarterback Joe Burrow fell just short of obtaining his first Super Bowl championship in Sunday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, losing the game 23-20. There, Burrow and the Cincinnati offense could not answer a late touchdown drive in the fourth quarter by Matthew Stafford and the Rams, ultimately turning the ball over on downs.

A big reason for that was the protection for Burrow in the last drive. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald made a huge hit on Burrow, which forced the incompletion that sealed the game on fourth down. (And that led to debate about if Donald should have received the game MVP award, which went to Cooper Kupp.)

The pass protection had been an issue all night for the Bengals, allowing seven sacks in the game. That’s tied for the most sacks allowed in a Super Bowl game.

But offensive line issues plagued the Bengals all season. Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times, during the regular season (Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill was second at 47), and he was sacked 19 times more in the postseason (Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes was second there at nine). And those issues for the team have brought up concerns for the health of Burrow going forward.

Former NFL GM Bill Polian hopes that Burrow doesn’t suffer the same fate as another talented former number 1 pick in the draft in former Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck. He spoke to ESPN’s Adam Schefter about that on The Adam Schefter Podcast:

“The resilience of Burrow is incredible. He is a tough guy. I hope that he doesn’t turn into Andrew Luck. They have to fix that before he ends up being injured which will affect his long-term career,” Polian said.  

Polian is absolutely correct, Burrow is a tough guy, but Luck was just as tough, and at some point, your body just gives out on you if you take too many hits.

Luck retired back in 2019 at only 29 years old after sustaining a number of injuries throughout his career that took a toll on his body to the point where he felt like he couldn’t continue anymore.

Burrow has already had one major injury in his career, with a torn ACL suffered last season. The Bengals certainly need to make sure that they address his OL protection before the injuries pile up as they did to Luck.

The Bengals famously took receiver Ja’Maar Chase over Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell in last year’s NFL draft. And while that seems to have been the right pick given Chase’s monster rookie season, they will certainly need to make the offensive line a priority very soon if they want what is best for Burrow’s career.

[Adam Schefter]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College.