Joe Burrow is the star of the moment in the NFL, poised at the age of 25 to play in Sunday’s Super Bowl. But the Cincinnati Bengals’ second-year quarterback wants more. “I’m chasing Aaron Rodgers to try to be the best,” Burrow said Friday during the final day of Super Bowl media interviews. “He’s been doing it for a long time.”
Rodgers, the former Cal star, won his fourth MVP award this season, his second in a row, to establish himself as the NFL’s premier quarterback. Burrow included recently retired Tom Brady and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in the small group of elite NFL quarterbacks with whom he aspires to be compared.
Burrow and the Bengals beat Mahomes and the Chiefs twice this season, first in Week 17 to clinch the AFC North title, then again in the AFC championship game. That pushed the Bengals into their first Super Bowl since 1989. The Bengals will take on the favored Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Sunday.
The Bengals lost to Rodgers and the Packers 25-22 in overtime on Oct. 10, and Burrow was outplayed by Green Bay’s then-37-year-old star. Rodgers passed for 344 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and a passer rating of 103.0. Burrow threw for 281 yards with two TDs and two picks, leading to a rating of 86.5.
Burrow acknowledged Rodgers “played great all year,” and the numbers bear it out. Rodgers secured his latest MVP following a season in which he completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns with just four interceptions. His 111.9 passer rating led the NFL.
Burrow finished second behind Rodgers in passer rating at 108.3, thanks to completing 70.4 percent for 4,611 yards with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Burrow was sacked 51 times, most of any quarterback in the NFL.
For his career, Rodgers has passed for 55,360 yards with 449 touchdowns and just 93 interceptions. He is 10th all-time in passing yards, fifth in career TDs and second (behind Mahomes) in passer rating at 104.5.
While Rodgers earned the MVP, Burrow was honored as the league’s Comeback Player of the Year. The former Heisman Trophy winner from LSU had his rookie season last year ended by a knee injury, and he returned this fall to lead Cincinnati into the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Rodgers has one other thing Burrow covets — a Super Bowl title. But on Friday, what winning Sunday could mean to his legacy, Burrow declined to lose focus.
“I try not to think about that kind of stuff because I think if you go down that road, you start worrying about the wrong things,” Burrow said. “So I’ve tried to stay focused on the job at hand.”