Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase have a bigger goal in mind, but for now, they'll gladly accept two of the biggest individual awards the NFL has to offer. Chase won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, while his quarterback was tabbed as the Associated Press Comeback Player of the year. Burrow beat out Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to win the honor.
Burrow is the fourth straight quarterback to win the award, joining recent recipients Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith. Burrow is the 10th quarterback to win the honor since 2008. Other quarterbacks who won the award over that span include Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers.
Burrow returned from tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee 10 weeks into his rookie season. The former No. 1 overall pick completed a league-high 70.4% of his passes this year. He also threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns while leading the Bengals to an AFC North division title. Burrow's 525 yards during Cincinnati's Week 16 win over Baltimore broke Boomer Esiason's 33-year-old franchise single-game passing record.
In the playoffs, Burrow has completed 68.8% of his passes for 842 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. If the Bengals defeat the Rams in Super Bowl LVI, Burrow would become the first quarterback in history to win the Heisman Trophy, national championship and Super Bowl.
Burrow has benefitted this season from the addition of Chase, his former LSU teammate. While criticized in some corners for not selecting now-Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell, the Bengals have clearly benefitted by selecting Chase with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Chase caught 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. He had 20 receptions for 279 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals' first three playoff games.
"They got such a great sense for each other," said Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, via ESPN. "A lot of it is because they communicate so easily."
Prescott missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation to his right ankle. He returned this season to throw for 4,449 yards and a career-high 37 touchdowns. Prescott helped lead Dallas to a 12-5 record and the franchise's first NFC East title since 2018.
Despite he and the Cowboys' success this season, Prescott hasn't gotten over Dallas' 23-17 loss to the 49ers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Time ran out on the Cowboys after Prescott ran for 17 yards on the game's final play.
"I don't know if it's gone yet. I don't know if ever will, honestly," Prescott said, according to the team's website. "I think there's probably some games, some moments in an athlete's career that just stick with them forever, and I'm sure that will be one of them."