“I mean it just feels like there’s never a moment that is too big for Joe Burrow,” McAfee said. “Fourth quarter, opening week, let me drive my team downfield. Offensive pass interference kind of stunts (what could be) my first ever game-winning drive in the NFL and then the worst cramp in the history of sports happens to Randy Bullock and he misses the field goal. Then last night, there were a lot of things that happened with Joe Burrow and that Cincinnati team where they could have curled up, but Joe Burrow answered. Every single time he answered the bell … I think there’s a lot of hope in Cincinnati for Joe Burrow. I think putting 61 passes on his arm in that second game is insane. I think the defense has to pick it up as well, but I think the future in Cincinnati is very bright with ole’ Joey B.”
McAfee’s comments came after Burrow, in just his second NFL game, lit up the Browns for 316 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-30 loss. He did so despite not always having the best protection — he was sacked three times and harried several others — but still gave Cincinnati a chance to win.
Along the way, he impressed Hall of Fame quarterback Tory Aikman, who helped call the game for NFL Network.
“I know that Carson Palmer had some good years and got them into the postseason, but it’s been tough sledding,” Aikman said Thursday night on the broadcast. “It has been awfully tough to get any consistency going in Cincinnati and to win at a regular rate. A big part of that has been, they’ve had trouble finding their quarterback. I really like this guy. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen from him. For Cincinnati’s sake, I hope he is the guy. He can win them a lot of football games.”
Aikman’s former top target, Hall of Fame wideout Michael Irvin, said Burrow won him over before the game even started.
“I had an opportunity to talk with him and I’m telling you: he won me over,” Irvin said during the NFL Network’s pregame show Thursday night. “Cincinnati, you can be optimistic that you have found the right quarterback. Let me tell you what I mean by the right quarterback. I felt like, honestly, he reminded me a lot of Troy Aikman when he was the first pick in Dallas. He’s a guy that’s mature beyond his years and can handle things. I’m not talking about being optimistic about going to the playoffs this year, but be optimistic that you have right guy.”