QB Joe Burrow's status unclear as Rams and Bengals meet for first time since Super Bowl 56

CINCINNATI (AP) — The last thing Joe Burrow saw in Super Bowl 56 was Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald slinging him to the ground.

Donald made it look too easy, charging around blockers, wrapping up the Cincinnati quarterback and throwing him down on fourth-and-1 as Burrow tossed an errant desperation pass.

Burrow didn't have enough time to spy receiver Ja'Marr Chase running open down the right sideline. That sealed a 23-20 win for the Rams in the game 19 months ago.

The matchup between the Rams and Bengals in Cincinnati on Monday night will be their first rematch in a regular-season game since that Super Bowl.

What's not known is whether a lingering calf injury will keep Burrow from playing — or how it will affect his mobility if he does play.

The team listed him as questionable for the game.

Burrow insisted he didn’t think too much about the Super Bowl loss when he saw the Rams on the 2023 schedule.

He downplayed the revenge angle, saying he's got nothing more on his mind other than trying to keep the 0-2 Bengals from digging a deeper hole.

“Yeah, this is the first time we’ve played them since then, but that was two years ago,” he said. “They’ve got different personnel. They’ve got new coaches. So do we. We’re just trying to be 1-0 this week.”

Whether it's Burrow or backup Jake Browning going for the Bengals, Donald will again be a disruptor.

“All you’ve got to do is watch the tape, man,” Burrow said of the seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle. “He’s explosive. He’s one of the best. He’s fun to watch on tape and not as fun to play against.”

Donald had few words for reporters who asked about his recollection of the Super Bowl.

“We won," he said. "That’s what I remember — we won.”

The Bengals and Rams actually have a more recent history than that Super Bowl. The Rams came to Cincinnati for a preseason game in 2022. The teams had a joint practice that was cut short because of a major brawl in which Donald swung a helmet at Bengals players. The teams played it down, and the exhibition game went off without incident.

"There’s familiarity only because there’s continuity at the (Bengals') coordinator spots, but there are some different guys that are playing out there," Rams coach Sean McVay said. “So there is some familiarity, but there’s a lot that’s taken place since that (Super Bowl) game.”

Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said the personnel has changed a lot around Donald on the Rams defense, but the unit remains formidable under third-year coordinator Raheem Morris.

“You know, they’re not household names on defense, but they put together two really pretty good games to start the season off, and I’ve been impressed with what they’ve put out there on tape," Callahan said.

Besides Donald, linebacker Ernest Jones — seven tackles, two for a loss, in the Super Bowl — will be familiar to the Bengals.

The Rams will see the same three outstanding Bengals receivers — Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd — as well as running back Joe Mixon.

The Bengals defense, mostly intact from two seasons ago, will again have to neutralize veteran Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford, who passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns, along with two interceptions, in the Super Bowl.

Nick Scott, who had two tackles for the Rams in that game, is now a starting safety for the Bengals.

Callahan said he's reviewed the Super Bowl game “more than I would have liked to.”

"It can be painful to watch, but there’s still things you take from those games," he said.


AP NFL coverage:

Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press