The AFC Conference Championship didn't end with cigars and celebration for Joe Burrow, but the Cincinnati Bengals' leader was characteristically composed following the setback.
In a quote provided to Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson , Burrow vowed that he and the team would come back stronger next season.
"I feel very good about the direction that we're headed in," Burrow said. "We've been in this game for two straight years. We have won one and lost one. Obviously, this one hurts but we will come back stronger."
It may not come as a comfort to Bengals fans today, but Burrow's point about sustained success is an important one.
Consistency is all that a front office can ask of its team, and Burrow has now led the Bengals to a Super Bowl and the conference championship game in consecutive years.
The sense of optimism in Cincinnati's clubhouse extends beyond Burrow. Coach Zac Taylor spoke about the team's future with Joe leading the team at QB.
"He [Burrow] is everything we want to be about," Taylor said. "He's a hard worker, he cares about his teammates, he cares about where he's from, he cares about his fanbase, I think he represents us the right way. We take a lot of pride in having Joe Burrow as our quarterback."
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