May 26, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning doesn’t know when he’ll fully appreciate his performance on Monday night.

In the second start of his career, he put together a historic outing in a 34-31 overtime victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Playing in place of an injured Joe Burrow, Browning became the first undrafted player in the common era to throw for more than 350 passing yards and complete 85% of his passes.

His final line: 32-of-37 passing, 354 yards and two total touchdowns, an effort that helped the Bengals snap a three-game losing streak. And despite his relative inexperience, the feeling of victory wasn’t an unfamiliar one for him.

“I haven’t played a lot of football, but it’s not like I’m not used to winning,” Browning said. “I’ve won a lot of games in my career. None of them have been in the NFL until today, which is obviously noteworthy. I’ve won a lot of football games in my life.”

Browning won a prep state title at Folsom (Calif.) High and played in 53 games in four seasons at the University of Washington before going undrafted in 2019. After the Minnesota Vikings waived him before the 2021 season, he landed with the Bengals and has gone from a practice squad player to the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

His role took on greater significance when Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11, which led to Browning making his first career start in Week 12. In a 16-10 loss to Pittsburgh, he was 19-of-26 passing for 227 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Browning said that while he has sat behind other quarterbacks and processed games, it’s different reflecting on his own in-game experience.

“[I] learned a lot from the Pittsburgh game and was really able to focus on some of those things throughout the week of practice,” Browning said. “I think the main thing is just having those reps and having another week of it. And we were able to put up points.”

Cincinnati (5-6) put up a ton of yards, too — a season-high 491, with 42 of those coming in the overtime period.

Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins said once Browning hit Ja’Marr Chase on a 76-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, that’s when he realized the Cincinnati quarterback was truly in for a big game.

Higgins had nothing but praise for how Browning fared against the Jaguars (8-4).

“Boy had a hell of a game,” Higgins said. “Y’all asked about his confidence all week and y’all just saw him there. Shoot, you can’t ask for anything better than that one.”

Browning leaned on Chase throughout the game. Chase finished with 11 catches on 12 targets for 149 yards, including his long touchdown reception.

On that play, Chase turned around and had some words for Jaguars safety Andre Cisco. Before the game, Chase said he told Higgins that he was in the mood to stir things up.

“I haven’t played a lot of football but it’s not like I’m not used to winning. I’ve won a lot of games in my career. None of them have been in the NFL until today, which is obviously noteworthy. I’ve won a lot of football games in my life.”

Bengals QB Jake Browning

“I just felt like being an evil person today,” said Chase, who also surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the third time in as many NFL seasons.

Chase and Browning menaced Jacksonville’s defense as the Bengals snapped a 14-game road losing streak in prime-time games, the longest in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

After the game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Browning “lit the world on fire” and that the performance could have a significant impact on the locker room.

“We can see the intangible stuff and the preparation he puts in,” Taylor said. “But when he goes out there and he leads the team like he did, I certainly think it raises the entire confidence level of the team.”

With five games left in the regular season, Cincinnati’s win gives the team an outside shot of reaching the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Four of Cincinnati’s remaining opponents have top quarterbacks facing injuries.

Cincinnati was aware of the impact Browning’s big night and the road victory had on its playoff outlook.

“We’re just getting ourselves one step closer to get our foot in the door,” Chase said. “And once we get in the door, we should kick it down.”

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