Bengals QB Joe Burrow named 2021 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had to rehab before he could walk, and walk before he could make his unexpected run to Super Bowl LVI.

That run now includes another achievement: 2021 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Burrow was named the recipient of the award during NFL Honors on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Burrow edged Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, 28-21, in the voting. Chargers safety Derwin James got the other vote.

Burrow's tale -- taking a team that had won just four games a year ago all the way to its third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history -- is remarkable for a second-year quarterback. It's even more impressive when considering he had to undergo knee surgery to repair a significant injury suffered as a rookie, rehabilitate, overcome the mental hurdles of returning to a high-speed contact sport, and then proceeded to light up the NFL in the final portion of the regular season.

The Bengals wouldn't sniff the Super Bowl without Burrow, and Burrow wouldn't have reached this stage had he sustained a setback along that road back to the field.

Burrow's second professional season has him on the doorstep of the elite class of NFL quarterbacks. Burrow finished sixth in passing yards in the regular season, posted a 34-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio and the second-best passer rating in the entire NFL at 108.3, trailing only Aaron Rodgers. Burrow stuffed the stat sheet in the latter portion of the season, throwing for 440-plus yards in two of his final five games and breaking 500 yards in a win over Baltimore to complete the Bengals' season sweep of the Ravens. In a three-game winning streak from Week 15 through Week 17, Burrow's broke 103 in passer rating in each game, and Cincinnati sprinted to the AFC North title following a Week 17 win over the Chiefs.

In the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI, Burrow spoke of his in-season improvement, which he said began following Cincinnati's Week 10 bye. With concerns about his knee behind him following the break, Burrow flourished, and anyone paying attention to Cincinnati was well aware of Burrow's success and rapid status climb among NFL quarterbacks. His team's run to an AFC crown put him on the map for every football fan.

Comeback Player of the Year is a great award for his trophy case, but if he continues at this rate, it's likely to pale in comparison to what awaits him.

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