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NFL NOTEBOOK

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s stellar rookie year is over because of knee injury

Players from both teams, including Washington starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins (center), comfort Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow as he's carted off Sunday with a season-ending knee injury.
Players from both teams, including Washington starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins (center), comfort Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow as he's carted off Sunday with a season-ending knee injury.Al Drago/Associated Press

Joe Burrow couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he was helped onto a cart in Landover, Md. Cincinnati Bengals teammates and Washington opponents flooded over to show support before he was driven off.

A knee injury to the No. 1 pick and franchise quarterback not only contributed to the Bengals’ 20-9 loss on Sunday but derailed their season built around giving Burrow as many snaps as possible.

“Thanks for all the love,” Burrow tweeted. “Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.”

If that’s indeed it for Burrow’s rookie season, he was 264 of 404 for 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games. He had 203 yards and a TD pass in putting Cincinnati ahead of Washington before getting hurt.

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“The players have responded to him, the coaches have responded to him, the city has responded to him and all that is equally as important,” coach Zac Taylor said. “He energizes this team. He’s been a tremendous player, everything we’d hoped he’d be, and we’ll get him back at some point. We don’t know when that is.”

Burrow had been sacked 32 times this season, but this injury happened after he got rid of the ball. Washington linemen Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen hit Burrow high and low, and the QB’s left leg bent the wrong way.

“Seeing that sucks, especially when you know the person,” said Washington receiver Terry McLaurin, who played with Burrow at Ohio State. “One thing I do know about Joe, he’s a resilient guy. I’m praying for him. He’s a guy that when he gets knocked down, he comes back stronger.”

Burrow had been a bright spot Sunday and all season for the Bengals and the NFL. He entered with the third most completions and second most attempts in the league, with just five interceptions.

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“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” defensive end Carl Lawson said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that dude is going to be OK.”

Dream start for Carolina’s P.J. Walker

P.J. Walker was a third-string quarterback battling for a roster spot with Indianapolis 18 months ago when he received a strange call from his mother, Tamicha Drake. She said she had a dream that he was throwing touchdown passes and winning games for the Carolina Panthers.

Maybe she has a career as a fortune teller. Walker signed with Carolina after Matt Rhule, his coach at Temple, accepted the Panthers job, and threw for 258 yards and a touchdown against Detroit, made the starter over Will Grier less than two hours before kickoff when Teddy Bridgewater was officially ruled out with a knee injury.

“It’s crazy,” said Walker, who threw a pair of red-zone interceptions on bad decisions, but helped Carolina hold the ball for nearly 37 minutes. “Life has come full circle and her dream came true.”

Walker’s career path took a detour through the XFL, where he turned heads by throwing 15 touchdown passes as the Houston Roughnecks won five straight before the league folded due to the pandemic.

Matt Patricia's Lions were held scoreless by the previously dreadful Carolina defense on Sunday.
Matt Patricia's Lions were held scoreless by the previously dreadful Carolina defense on Sunday.Grant Halverson/Getty

Matt Patricia back on the hot seat in Detroit

⋅ Detroit managed just 185 yards and was 3 of 14 on third downs, failing to score against a Carolina defense that had allowed its last four opponents to put up a combined 131 points. Coming off a promising win over Washington, the Lions lost a game they had to have to stay in playoff contention, and one that could ultimately lead to costing coach Matt Patricia his job.

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Patricia, who is 13-28-1 in 2½ seasons as Lions head coach since leaving the Patriots, was peppered with questions about his future after the loss, but refused to take a big-picture look at the situation.

“We have to go out, and we have to coach a lot better and get things right, and we have to go play better,” Patricia said. “We’re going to go to work every day and try to do the best that we can to improve, and that’s the bottom line. It’s what we do.”

Dez Bryant had four receptions for 28 yards, all in the third quarter, of Baltimore’s overtime loss to Tennessee. They were his first catches in an NFL game since Dec. 31, 2017, with Dallas. The 32-year-old Bryant closed his career with the Cowboys after the 2017 season, tore his Achilles tendon in 2018, and was inactive last season. The 2014 All-Pro signed with Baltimore earlier this season. He played in one game without a catch before being activated from the practice squad Saturday.

⋅ Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster appeared to tweak his foot while stepping on an official’s yellow flag during Pittsburgh’s 10th straight win. Smith-Schuster was jogging off the field in the fourth when he winced and started hobbling after his cleat landed funny on the weighted part of the flag. He got checked out on the sideline and did not return. Coach Mike Tomlin said it was a minor injury.

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⋅ The Jaguars dropped to 41-100 in owner Shad Khan’s nine-year tenure. He tied former New Orleans Saints owner John Mecom Jr. as the second fastest to reach 100 losses. Khan hit the dubious mark in 141 games, one more than late Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse.

Alvin Kamara became the first players in NFL history with at least 500 yards rushing and receiving in each of his first four NFL seasons. His New Orleans teammate, Michael Thomas, caught nine passes for 104 yards in the win against Atlanta, giving him ownership of the record for most catches in an NFL player’s first five seasons with 489.

Justin Herbert tied George Ratterman of the 1947 Buffalo Bills for the fourth fastest to reach 20 career touchdown passes, throwing three more in beating the Jets to make it 22 in nine games. It was his fifth game in those first nine in which he threw at least three touchdowns, and the fifth in which he topped 300 yards. Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Kurt Warner achieved the 20-TD milestone in eight games.

Philip Rivers made his 234th consecutive start, leading Indianapolis at quarterback in its win against Green Bay, tying Eli Manning for the 10th longest streak in league history. Manning spent his entire 16-year career with the New York Giants after being drafted No. 1 overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Rivers was the fourth overall pick that year, but was traded to San Diego for Manning.

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⋅ The Denver Broncos allowed 5,700 fans into their victory over Miami, but will play their last three games in an empty stadium because of a surge in COVID-19 cases. About 20 players and coaches missed just the early games on Sunday because they’re on the COVID-19/reserve list, including Denver defensive end Shelby Harris (out for a third consecutive week) and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, missing his fourth after being hospitalized last week.