GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)Zac Taylor said he spent much of Sunday’s game on the headset with his fellow Cincinnati Bengals coaches, hollering at quarterback Joe Burrow to quit scrambling for a few extra yards and throw the ball away on plays that looked dead.
Burrow didn’t listen. The Bengals won a football game.
Just like old times.
Burrow threw for 317 yards and three touchdown passes to Ja’Marr Chase, who finished with a season-high 192 yards receiving, and the Bengals beat the Arizona Cardinals 34-20.
“The great quarterbacks, you can’t just keep them in the pocket,” Taylor said. “They’re going to extend plays, sometimes when you think they shouldn’t. They’re going to hang onto the ball for a second longer than people feel comfortable with. And usually great things happen.
“That’s the special magic he’s got.”
It was a much-needed offensive performance for Burrow, who signed the NFL’s richest contract during the offseason but was slowed through his first four games of the season by a calf injury. The 26-year-old looked plenty healthy against the Cardinals, completing 36 of 46 passes and buying time on a handful of plays with his athleticism in the pocket.
“It’s something I haven’t been able to do for the last couple weeks,” Burrow said. “When the quarterback can’t do that, can’t steal first downs, can’t extend plays to find guys, it’s tough to move the ball. It felt good today.”
Chase set a single-game franchise record with 15 receptions and made tough catches in traffic by repeatedly finding seams in the Cardinals defense.
“Ja’Marr – nothing really surprises you,” Taylor said. “You just keep finding ways to get him the ball. It can come in so many different ways because of how flexible he is as a football player, his football IQ.”
Cincinnati scored a touchdown in the first half for the first time this season and had three offensive touchdowns overall on Sunday, matching the unit’s total from the first four games combined.
The Bengals got the ball to start the second half and wasted little time scoring. Burrow unleashed a 63-yard touchdown pass to Chase on the third play of the third quarter, pushing Cincinnati’s advantage to 24-14.
“We’re just taking a step closer to who we really are,” Chase said.
The Cardinals cut that lead to 24-20 later in the third on Emari Demercado’s 11-yard touchdown run, which was the first of his pro career.
Burrow then had his one big miscue of the game – though it wasn’t completely his fault. The Bengals were driving and deep in Cardinals territory when receiver Trenton Irwin fell while running a route, leading to an easy interception for K’Von Wallace.
Cincinnati’s defense responded with a fourth down stop and Burrow led a 15-play, 83-yard drive that was capped by Chase’s third touchdown catch of the game and a 31-20 lead. This one was a 3-yard dart caught by Chase as he was dashing across the back of the end zone.
Cincinnati took a 17-14 lead just before halftime, seizing the momentum when Cam Taylor-Britt picked off Joshua Dobbs’ pass and ran it back 11 yards for the touchdown. It was Dobbs’ first interception of the season on his 138th pass attempt.
The Bengals (2-3) jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first offensive drive, boosted by Burrow’s 7-of-7 passing performance through the air. He hit Chase in the back of the end zone – squeezing the ball between two defenders – for a 2-yard touchdown.
Burrow completed his first 10 passes. The Bengals pushed ahead 10-0 late in the first quarter on Evan McPherson’s 40-yard field goal.
The Cardinals (1-4) responded early in the second, cutting the margin to 10-7 on a perfectly placed pass from Dobbs to Marquise Brown, who caught the ball on the run and over his shoulder for a 25-yard touchdown.
Arizona went ahead 14-10 with 8:28 left in the first half when Dobbs found veteran tight end Zach Ertz for a 4-yard touchdown. It was the only lead the Cardinals would have all day.
TOUGH FINISH FOR DOBBS
Dobbs completed 15 of 32 passes for 166 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble. The quarterback was disappointed that the game slipped away in the fourth quarter, when two offensive possessions ended in turnovers.
“Games come down to fourth-quarter execution,” Dobbs said. “Obviously, first, second and third quarter execution is important but fourth-quarter execution is critical.”
Bengals: The team’s second-leading receiver WR Tee Higgins (ribs) was on the inactive list. He was listed as questionable on Friday. … CB Chidobe Awuzie (back) was also inactive.
Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray has missed all five games this season while recovering from a knee injury suffered last season. He’s eligible to come off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but it’s unclear when the Cardinals might activate him. … Two-time All-Pro safety Budda Baker missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury. … RB James Conner (knee) left in the second quarter. … S Jalen Thompson (hamstring) left in the second quarter.
Bengals: Host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.
Cardinals: Visit the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
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