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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Feb. 21, 2024

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Former Huskies QB Browning steals spotlight as Bengals stun Jaguars 34-31 in OT

Throws for 354 yards and TD in second NFL start

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jake Browning insists his first career start was the real surprise. Everyone else would disagree.

The former University of Washington quarterback threw for 354 yards and a touchdown in his second start — much better than the four-sack, two-turnover performance a week earlier — and the Cincinnati Bengals stunned the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-31 in overtime Monday night.

“He just lit the world on fire,” coach Zac Taylor said.

Browning also ran for a score as the Bengals (6-6) won a road game on “Monday Night Football” for the first time since 1990. Evan McPherson’s 48-yard field goal in overtime was the difference and ended a three-game losing streak on the season and a nine-game road skid on MNF.

“After you put up 10 points in your first start, you’re excited to get another crack at it,” Browning said.

This one was shocking and potentially costly for the Jaguars (8-4), who lost quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a sprained right ankle late in the fourth quarter.

Left tackle Walker Little stepped on Lawrence’s ankle just before he was sacked. Lawrence tried to get up, but dropped to the ground, ripped off his helmet and threw it in disgust. He was helped off the field and into the tunnel for X-rays, which were negative.

Lawrence left the locker room in a walking boot and on crutches. He will have more tests Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury. It ended an otherwise stellar night for Lawrence, who completed 22 of 29 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

Browning was equally stout in place of star Joe Burrow, who watched and coached from the sideline while wearing a cast and a sling.

Browning completed 32 of 37 passes and directed the overtime drive that set up McPherson’s field goal. McPherson, who played collegiately at nearby Florida, banged a 57-yarder off the crossbar in the same direction early in the game.

Jacksonville backup C.J. Beathard completed 9 of 10 passes for 63 yards in relief of Lawrence. Beathard put the Jaguars in position for Brandon McManus’ 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining in regulation.

“It should have been a game-winning field goal,” said Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, pointing to the 48-yarder McManus missed early in the fourth.

Ja’Marr Chase caught 11 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, a 76-yarder in the third quarter that got the Bengals going.

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“He’s so hard to bring down,” Taylor said. “Anytime you get the ball in his hands, it’s stressful for the defense.”

Joe Mixon ran for 68 yards and two scores, and rookie Chase Brown added 61 yards on the ground for the league’s worst rushing attack. Mixon also had six receptions for 49 yards.

The Bengals made it harder that it should have been when Taylor called a trick play that turned into a debacle in third.

Browning lateraled to receiver Tyler Boyd, who inexplicably threw directly to pass rusher Josh Allen. Allen caught the ball for his second career interception. The Jaguars scored four plays later when Lawrence jumped and stretched the ball across the goal line.

“That could have broken our back there,” Taylor said. “But our team rallied around it.”

The Bengals did the same all week for Browning, whose first start ended in a 16-10 home loss to Pittsburgh.

“When he goes out there and leads the team like he did, it raises the entire confidence level of the team,” Taylor said.

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