‘That’s a Cop Out’ – Bengals QB Jake Browning Refuses To Blame Inexperience for Game-Changing Interception

Jake Browning's NFL starting debut was laced with good and bad, but he wouldn't blame his inexperience for his decision-making on a key play.

CINCINNATI — Sunday marked 1,790 days since the last time Jake Browning started a football game, which was in the 2019 Rose Bowl against Ohio State, but he refused to blame that gap for his biggest mistake in the Cincinnati Bengals‘ 16-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium.

Browning and the offense struggled to do much of anything in the first half against Pittsburgh, running 20 plays for just 98 yards while going 0 for 4 on third down.

How Bengals QB Jake Browning Played in Starting Debut

But they had a 7-3 lead and a chance to add to it when Browning drove the offense into the red zone on the opening possession of the third quarter, converting a 3rd-and-9 and 3rd-and-5 along the way.

Then, on 3rd-and-7 at the Pittsburgh 18, Browning locked in on Ja’Marr Chase, leading to his first career interception as safety Trenton Thompson jumped the route to snare the ball and, with it, the Bengals’ best chance to win the game.

“I think that’s a little bit of a cop-out for me to sit here and say that any interception was because I haven’t played in a while,” Browning said. “That’s a cop-out. I think I can read out that play and make the right decision.”

Browning completed 19 of 26 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and one interception, although the yardage number was inflated by some good fortune. Two of his passes were deflected by Pittsburgh defenders, only to end up in Chase’s arms for 31 and 14 yards. And then, with the Bengals down nine and less than three minutes to go, Browning threw a screen that Joe Mixon took 39 yards for the team’s biggest gain of the day.

MORE: Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart

“Definitely not my best game,” Browning said. “I tried to keep fighting. Starting with the first drive, kind of getting settled in, I felt like there were times where I was settled in. I felt like there were other times where I needed to play better. It was not up to my standard of how I would’ve liked to play.”

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had words of encouragement for Browning after the loss.

“I thought he handled some things really well for us,” Taylor said. “It’s a tough task to play a divisional game versus a good defense in your first game. There’s going to be plenty of things he can learn from. I told him this is just the first chapter in his story.”

The first interception was the biggest part of that first chapter.

While some quarterbacks would simply say “I can’t throw that pass” or “give credit to the defense,” Browning went into detail about what went wrong.

“I think I just made the decision too early in the play,” he said. “(I should have) let the play play out, and let 17 (Thompson) decide if he was going to cover the curl or cover the guy in the flat. I kind of made the decision without really reading it out.”

“Get the three points. This is going to be a game that comes down to — it’s not going to be a shootout,” he continued. “In hindsight, I guess (I should) play out the play and read it out. Don’t just see something pre-snap and kind of make a decision.”

In addition to Taylor, many players on offense commended Browning for how he played, his presence in the huddle, and his demeanor after throwing the interception.

But in the end, he became the 14th quarterback out of 19 to make his NFL starting debut with the Bengals and take a loss. It was bugging him in his postgame press conference, and he said he’s not sure how long it will continue to do so.

“I think over the next 24 hours maybe, or at some point, it will not feel like just pissed that we lost,” Browning said. “Or maybe it will take a year or two. But I think we just lost a close game where you feel like you didn’t play your best, and we didn’t play well enough on offense. We only gave up 16 points on defense, and we lost. That’s kind of my primary thought in my head.”

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more! 

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Bengals Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Bengals Podcast on our NFL YouTube channel.

Join the Conversation!

Related Articles