LANDOVER HILLS, Md. — Top pick Joe Burrow was carted off with a left knee injury before Alex Smith rallied Washington past the Cincinnati Bengals 20-9 Sunday to keep his team in the thick of the NFC East race.
Burrow, Cincinnati's franchise quarterback, was injured early in the third quarter when he was hit high and low by two Washington linemen after throwing a pass. His left leg bent awkwardly, and he couldn't put any weight on it, ending his day at 22-of-34 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown.
His season appears over, too. Burrow tweeted: "Thanks for all the love. Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.”
Burrow's departure allowed Smith and Washington (3-7) to take over and move a half-game back of Philadelphia for first place in the NFL's weakest division. Just after Burrow left, the 36-year-old Smith — who broke his right tibia and fibula on the same field just over two years ago — led a go-ahead, 55-yard scoring drive that ended with a 3-yard TD pass to Steven Sims.
In his second start since that gruesome injury Nov. 18, 2018, Smith was 17 of 25 for 166 yards and had a pass intercepted after it was tipped late in the first half.
Washington rookie running back Antonio Gibson ran for 94 yards and a TD.
Burrow's replacement, Ryan Finley, couldn't do much for Cincinnati (2-7-1), which didn't punt once in the first half with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at the helm. Finley was 3 of 10 for 30 yards and an interception in the final minutes.
YOUNG MAKES PLAY
Long before Burrow was injured, No. 2 pick Chase Young made the most of the first pro matchup against his old Ohio State teammate picked immediately before him in the draft. Young forced Burrow to fumble on the run during a fourth-and-goal play early in the second quarter, a sequence that ended with a touchback for Washington.
Cincinnati was without three assistants for COVID-19-related reasons: wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson and safeties coach Robert Livingston. The team also had assistants out last week at Pittsburgh.
Washington had its first coronavirus positive this week and put defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis on the COVID-19/reserve list but wasn't missing anyone for the game. Ioannidis has been on injured reserve since Sept. 29 and didn't travel for the game last weekend at Detroit.
Washington backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins raised his left fist in the air during the national anthem. Tight end Logan Thomas stayed in the bowels of the stadium for the song, emerging after it was over.
Bengals: Played a fourth consecutive game without running back Joe Mixon because of a foot injury. Mixon went on injured reserve Saturday, meaning he'll miss at least the next two.
Washington: Was without starting left tackle Cornelius Lucas and free safety Deshazor Everett because of ankle injuries.
Washington has a short turnaround before visiting Dallas on Thanksgiving, while Cincinnati hosts the New York Giants next Sunday.