One of the game's hottest young quarterbacks, less than 11 months removed from tearing his ACL, crossed the 40-yard line at full speed. Joe Burrow had the option to slide down like he was legging out a double. Instead, he kept sprinting until two Green Bay Packers defenders converged on the Cincinnati Bengals' star for a high-low hit that made everyone in Paul Brown Stadium uneasy.
Including the opposing quarterback.
"Slide. You're too damn talented," said Aaron Rodgers, recalling on The Pat McAfee Show what he told Burrow after that Week 5 game. "You've got so much in front of you to accomplish in this league. Sometimes you gotta slide. I would have said the same thing to Andrew [Luck]."
Sliding while outside of the pocket has become a staple for quarterbacks as the league works to protect its prized assets. Yet despite years of goofs, fumbles and injury risks, QBs still take unnecessary hits and jeopardize their teams' chances while stretching for a couple of extra yards. Conceding that yardage in the name of survival is hard for young, eager players to understand. Bengals coach Zac Taylor stresses to Burrow protecting the team by protecting yourself.
"There is a time to put your head down and go get that first down," he said. "Then there are some times we just have to assess the situation and be smart and keep us on pace for the next drive. ... That's just one of the things he has to balance. I think he has done a really good job of that."
So how do NFL teams prioritize their quarterbacks sliding? What are the pros and cons of the maneuver, and which QBs are the best at it? We took a closer look at the art of the slide, including insight from a handful of current and former NFL quarterbacks and coaches and data from ESPN Stats & Information.