Joe Burrow gives himself a 'D' in debut as Cincinnati Bengals' comeback falls short

CINCINNATI -- Quarterback Joe Burrow was quick to shoulder the blame, warranted or not, after the Cincinnati Bengals lost in his rookie debut.

Burrow gave himself a "D" despite being one play away from scoring the game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds of a 16-13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night in Paul Brown Stadium.

The 2020 top overall draft pick refused to settle for any excuses after a late penalty and a missed 31-yard field goal prevented Burrow from becoming the first QB taken No. 1 overall to win in Week 1 of his rookie year since David Carr accomplished the feat in 2002.

"At the end of the day, I made too many mistakes for us to win the game and we didn't make enough plays," Burrow said.

It was a harsh self-critique for the recent Heisman winner who was one throw away from leading the Bengals to a comeback win. Burrow was 23-of-36 passing for 193 yards, one rushing touchdown and one interception -- an errant shovel pass that was picked off in the fourth quarter that nearly ended the game.

On the possession following the turnover, Burrow was 8-of-11 passing for 70 yards and had a potential go-ahead touchdown negated by a pass interference penalty on A.J. Green with less than 10 seconds left. Kicker Randy Bullock missed a 31-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

Burrow refused to make any excuses for his debut loss and instead looked inward following the defeat. He said he overthrew a potential touchdown throw to wide receiver John Ross, who was inches away from catching the ball.

The rookie rued another missed chance when he overthrew Green, who was wide-open in the end zone.

"I can't miss that one to A.J.," Burrow said. "A high-schooler can make that throw."

But while the Bengals quarterback was critical of his performance, others raved about Burrow's debut.

Green said the rookie was "unbelievable," especially at the end as Burrow led the offense all the way to the Chargers' 3-yard line in the final minutes despite not having any timeouts at his disposal.

"That guy doesn't flinch," Green said. "The way he handled himself in that last drive was unbelievable. I haven't seen any rookie the way he handled it after adversity. We got a special one in Joe."

Burrow's lone touchdown came on a 23-yard run in the first half. Burrow audibled at the line of scrimmage to take advantage of a mismatch and score the rushing touchdown.

His performance caught Chargers coach Anthony Lynn's attention.

"I was afraid," Lynn said. "He's way more nimble than people think. He's a fine young quarterback."

But in the immediate aftermath, Burrow wasn't pleased with how his first NFL start turned out. However, he said he remains confident in his new team, one he said will have to bounce back quickly with a Week 2 game at Cleveland looming on Thursday night.

"We have no choice," Burrow said. "We play in four days."