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Steelers are 22-4 against rookie quarterbacks under Mike Tomlin

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Steelers will see quarterback Joe Burrow on Sunday, who was drafted No. 1 overall out of LSU by the Bengals in the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow was a sensation at LSU, throwing 60 touchdown passes and just six interceptions in his senior year that resulted in him winning the Heisman Trophy and leading LSU to a National Championship.

Burrow has got off to a good start in Cincinnati this year, completing 221 of 330 passes (67%) for 2,272 yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 91.4. Burrow's 2,272 passing yards is the eighth-most in the league. If he continues the trend that he's on, Burrow should be the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Steelers under Mike Tomlin have fared well against rookie quarterbacks with a record of 22-4 (including playoffs) when going up against rookie signal-callers, according to Pro Football Reference. The Steelers are 12-1 against rookie quarterbacks at Heinz Field with their lone loss coming against Dak Prescott in 2016. The Steelers have won seven straight games against rookie quarterbacks since then.

“He’s as good as advertised,” Mike Tomlin said about Burrow in his weekly press conference today. “His physical talents are one thing, and they are rock-solid. This guy can make every throw, his accuracy his exceptional. He’s a good decision-maker. He’s a fluid decision-maker."

Tomlin is also impressed with Burrow's elusiveness and athleticism. Burrow has rushed for 130 yards on 35 carries and three touchdowns this year.

"His mobility is really underrated," Tomlin said of Burrow. "He’s an easy mover. He can escape and create. They also have some designed quarterback runs that are challenging in the red area and so forth, but the most impressive thing has been his charisma, his moxie, or his competitive spirit. It’s obvious that he’s an energy-bringer. It’s obvious that he brings out the best in his teammates. They’re really getting a good vibe off of his play and his energy."

Burrow has a talented group of wide receivers to throw to in Tyler Boyd A.J. Green and Tee Higgins. Boyd leads the team in receptions and receiving yards with 54 receptions for 584 yards (10.8 average) and three touchdowns.

"He’s got some awesome weapons and receivers, starting first with Tyler Boyd, a guy we know well and have a lot of respect for," Tomlin said. "Tyler has consistently over the course of his career continue to evolve and really just made himself one of the elite interior slot receivers, one that needs to be reckoned with, particularly on possession downs and in the red zone. He works great between the hashes and in the middle of the field. He’s tough and competitive. He’s got strong hands. They have longer, more challenging guys from a height standpoint on the perimeter. We know A.J. Green and his résumé. He’s been at it for a long time, and we are familiar there, but they have a new component in Tee Higgins out of Clemson who is 6-4 and change and is making some quality plays for them as well on the outside."

While the Bengals have talent at the skill positions their offensive line has struggled this season, allowing Burrow to be sacked 28 times, which is tied for the second-most in the league. The Steelers lead the league in sacks with 32 through eight games. Expect Steelers' defensive coordinator Keith Butler to dial up a lot of blitzes against the rookie quarterback on Sunday at Heinz Field. Burrow will try to become the second rookie quarterback to beat the Steelers at Heinz Field in the Tomlin era.

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