Photo by Cincinnati Bengals


Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who bounced back from a left knee injury suffered in 2020 to throw for a franchise-record 34 TDs and lead the Bengals to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, is the 2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Burrow was on pace to break several Bengals single-season and NFL rookie passing records, along with NFL rookie passing marks before he suffered a knee injury against Washington on November 22, 2020 in his 10th game of his rookie season. He had surgery on December 2, 2020, and he embarked on a long rehab process that culminated in him taking the first snaps of Cincinnati’s 2021 training camp.

He returned to the starting lineup and led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4 percent) and yards per attempt (8.87) and was second in passer rating (108.3) in his 16 games (all starts). He completed 366 of 520 passes for 4,611 yards (sixth in the NFL) and 34 touchdowns. On December 26, Burrow set a franchise record with 525 passing yards – the fourth-highest total in NFL history – on 37 of 46 passing and four touchdowns in a 41-21 home victory over the Baltimore Ravens. He was a 2021 PFWA All-AFC selection.

Burrow is the second member of the Cincinnati franchise to receive Comeback Player of the Year honors (QB Jon Kitna in 2003) since the award was instituted in 1992.


In its 58th season in 2021, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic is the PFWA president for the 2021-22 seasons and the organization’s 30th president. Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated is the PFWA’s first vice-president, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the second vice-president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include USA Today’s Mike Jones,’s Jeff Legwold, The Athletic’s Dan Pompei and’s Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.

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