When all else fails for Joe Burrow, LSU's star quarterback has proven he's more than willing to go catch his own pass and take it where it needs to go.
That was shown in front of a massive SEC Championship audience when he grabbed a deflected ball on the Tigers' first drive against Georgia. The play went down in the game log as: Joe Burrow pass complete to Joe Burrow for 16 yards to the Georgia 47 for a 1st down.
"Run, Joe, run!" said LSU coach Ed Orgeron when asked post-game what he thought as he saw the ball batted back into the arms of his quarterback.
It was the first big play for LSU en route to a dominating, 37-10 victory and the school's first SEC title since 2011. But it's far from the first time he's taken pass-catching duties upon himsef.
"He's too good to be lucky," broadcaster Gary Danielson said as be broke down the play, "but on this one he was lucky. Also, he's such an aware football player. ... His stats are amazing, but he actually plays better than his stats."
But exactly how aware? Let's take a look back at some of Burrow's other self-help plays in his young career.
BACK IN THE OSU DAYS
Burrow's Ohio State career didn't carry many stats, but his line from the Buckeye's 2018 spring game featured a few quirks as he played for both the Scarlet and Gray sides and put up the following lines:
- Burrow (Gray): 11-for-17 for 189 yards, 2 TDs
- Burrow (Scarlet): 4-for-5, 49 yards
- Also Burrow (Scarlet): 1 catch, 3 yards
On that play, which was so smooth it looked almost planned, Burrow rolls to the right and unsheathes a sidearm pass that doinks off lineman Wyatt Davis' helmet and straight back into the quarterback's arms. Burrow then sprints to the sideline and stretches the ball out for a first down, with most players looking around still unclear on what actually happened.
"You see some of the athleticism with Joe Burrow there," analyst James Laurinaitis said.
Burrow was in the process of a quarterback battle with Dwayne Haskins, who went on to win the job and is now starting in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. Burrow transferred to LSU about a month later.
"He's starting to make a claim for either a starting quarterback job or a wide receiver position," fellow broadcaster Kevin Kugler joked after the play.
But Burrow's self-passes got a much earlier start than even his college days.
IN THE HIGH SCHOOL DAYS
Joe Burrow was named Mr. Football in Ohio, and he did it by throwing a whole lot of touchdowns, including one to himself.
Burrow threw six TD passes in a high school championship game in 2014, and a dive into the highlights will reveal that one of those plays culminated with Burrow himself standing in the endzone and celebrating both ends of a scoring pass.
Burrow, wearing No. 10, needed a bit of help to get his hands on the ball after it was sent flying up in the air immediately after he released the throw. He quickly heads into traffic after the ball, which two defenders go up to catch but run into each other and deflect the ball again. The football then falls right into Burrow's waiting arms and he pushes his way into the endzone. The resultant play: A 5-yard touchdown pass and 5-yard touchdown catch as defenders helplessly look on.
The play-making ways that have now followed Burrow through his days in Baton Rouge never cease to amaze his teammates, Tigers wide receiver Justin Jefferson said. But they've simply come to expect it after seeing the Heisman front-runner pull off plays like the self-pass, or other jaw-dropping moments like a 71-yard heave to Justin Jefferson after Burrow escaped what appeared to be a sure sack with Georgia defenders closing in.
“I tell everybody, Joe just makes some unbelievable plays sometimes," Jefferson said. "And we never really expect it, it just comes out of nowhere. So we’re ready whenever the ball comes to us.”
Joe Burrow does magical things ... escapes rush that looked like to have him dead-to-rights. Finds Justin Jefferson who goes 71 yards and gets tackled at 9 (4th longest pass in #SECChampionship history)— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) December 8, 2019
BUT JJ went down with an injury and stayed down.pic.twitter.com/sDkzs3GGAa
Fellow wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase had a much simpler answer when asked about that play to Jefferson.
"Heisman. Heisman," he said, simply. "That's what I said."
Burrow finished the SEC title game 28-for-38 for 349 yards and four touchdowns, which brought his season total to 4,715 yards and 48 passing touchdowns. Both of those marks have blown away the previous LSU records with at least one more game ahead.
When asked how the team was able to land its first SEC championship in eight years, senior defensive back Grant Delpit laughed, then said: "Joe Burrow," before adding that it was a full-team effort, of course.
"He's the best I've ever seen," Delpit continued. "I can't put it into words. Like I said, I'm glad he's on my team."
Whatever the words may be, Burrow-to-Burrow remains undefeated: 3-for-3 for 3 catches, 24 yards passing and receiving, one touchdown -- five years (at least) in the making.