Joe Burrow entered Sunday as on one of the best ball protectors in the NFL.
Dating back to his injury-shortened rookie season, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback had thrown 199 consecutive passes without an interception. It’s a streak that extended into the second half of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears and was the longest such in the NFL.
The Bears put it to an end in stunning fashion.
Facing third-and-3 early in the third quarter, Burrow threw an errant pass into a crowded Bears zone that was intercepted by Roquan Smith. The Bears linebacker corralled the ball at the Chicago 46-yard line and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown to give Chicago a 17-3 lead.
Burrow and the Bengals offense quickly returned to the field, where Joe Mixon started the next possession with a 4-yard run. On second down, Burrow looked to the left sideline targeting Tee Higgins. Instead, he found Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who picked off Burrow for his second interception in two throws.
The Bears didn’t capitalize, and the Bengals returned to the field still trailing, 17-3. Burrow’s next pass? You guessed it. It was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by defensive lineman Angelo Blackson.
If you’re keeping score that’s three interceptions on three straight passes by Burrow after he led the league in consecutive passes without a pick. The Bears converted the turnover into a field goal that ended up being the decisive margin in a 20-17 Chicago win.
Burrow finished the day completing 19 of 30 pass attempts for 207 yards with two touchdowns and the three interceptions. It’s safe to say there are better days ahead for the 24-year-old quarterback.