The Cincinnati Bengals will move forward through the 2023 season without their franchise cornerstone. Head coach Zac Taylor told reporters last week that Joe Burrow has a torn ligament in his wrist, which will require season-ending surgery. On Saturday, the team placed Burrow on injured reserve.
Burrow was ruled out of the Bengals' Week 11 matchup with the Ravens after suffering a right wrist injury. Cincy's quarterback departed to the locker room midway through the second quarter after dealing with an injury to his throwing hand. He was initially listed as questionable to return before ultimately being downgraded and put on the shelf for the rest of the night in what resulted in a 34-20 win for the Ravens. Afterward, Taylor characterized Burrow's injury as a sprained wrist, but less than 24 hours later brought a more dire diagnosis.
"Obviously, you have a lot of aspirations for what the season is going to look like," Burrow told reporters when addressing the media on Friday. "What the end of the season is going to look like. We were in a good spot. We are in a good spot. ... Things were starting to take a turn. You're starting to play really well and then something like this happens. Nothing you can do about it. Just got to grind it out."
That wrist had been the topic of conversation leading into this game after a social media post caught Burrow wearing some sort of wrap on that hand exiting the team bus in Baltimore. However, Taylor noted Friday that the wrap was "completely unrelated" to this latest injury. He specifically suffered the injury on Cincinnati's fourth drive of the night on a tackle from Ravens pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, per Taylor. Despite the injury that came earlier in the drive, Burrow completed a touchdown pass to running back Joe Mixon to cap off a 12-play, 82-yard touchdown drive and was in noticeable discomfort upon making the throw.
"The play before it happened, I landed on my wrist a little bit and the next play, the touchdown pass, I just felt a pop in the middle of the throw," Burrow said. "Tried to give it a go, but just couldn't get it done. Obviously, got the news today, so not great."
He was then looked at by trainers in the blue medical tent. Upon emerging from the tent, Burrow attempted to throw a couple of passes on the sideline. On his second attempt, Prime Video cameras caught the ball fumbling out of Burrow's hand with the quarterback shaking his head, seemingly with the resignation that he could not get a grip.
It was at that point that Burrow jogged to the locker room and Jake Browning relieved him at quarterback.
Coming out of the halftime locker room for the third quarter, Burrow emerged in uniform but without a helmet. He was seen putting an earpiece in to seemingly listen in on the offensive play-calling. Taylor then told Prime Video's Kaylee Hartung that the team probably won't see Burrow for the remainder of the night, which was a precursor to the team officially ruling him out. They made it official in the third quarter.
The former No. 1 overall pick, who had been dealing with a calf injury in the early portions of the season, finally started to return to form in recent weeks. Since Week 5, Burrow had completed 74.1% of his passes, which was the best completion percentage in the NFL over that stretch. Burrow has been no stranger to injuries since entering the league in 2020. On top of this ailment and the calf injury that originated in the summer, Burrow has dealt with a torn ACL/MCL (November 2020), a dislocated finger (December 2021) and a sprained MCL (February 2022).
Burrow has not missed a game since Week 18 of the 2021 season. When he has been sidelined, however, it hasn't spelled success for Cincinnati. Under Taylor, the Bengals are 34-24-1 with Burrow as the starter and just 4-19 without him (including playoffs).
Before suffering the injury, Burrow completed 11 of his 17 passes against the Ravens for 101 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Browning struggled to put together consistent scoring drives, completing eight of his 14 passes for 68 yards and a garbage time touchdown on the final possession.
Thursday's loss moved Cincinnati to 5-5 on the season and this latest injury to Burrow pushes their playoff hopes even further down the drain. Over the next two weeks, the Bengals will host the Steelers in Week 12 and then head down to Jacksonville to play a prime-time matchup with the Jaguars in Week 13.
According to SportsLine's Stephen Oh, the club's chances of making the playoffs dropped from 37.6% with Burrow to just 1.3% without him, representing a 36.3% swing. The team's win percentage dropped 14.1% and their odds of winning the AFC or the Super Bowl have shrunk to 0.0%.