Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said Jake Browning “lit the world on fire.”
Browning said there’s more where that came from.
In a streak-snapping, record-setting performance Monday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Browning completed 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown to lead the Bengals to a 34-31 overtime road win at EverBank Stadium.
Jake Browning Says Record Performance Is Only the Start
Browning’s 86.4 completion percentage is an NFL record for a quarterback making his first or second career start. Monday was his second start after Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury.
Browning is just the 22nd quarterback to throw for that many yards in one of his first two starts. And only four of the previous 21 did it in a winning performance.
Taking the completion percentage aspect out of it, Browning is the 22nd QB in NFL history to throw for at least 354 yards in one of his first 2 starts https://t.co/r6eycRF2EA pic.twitter.com/YgAgnWhXXm
— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) December 5, 2023
“I’m not planning on plateauing any time soon,” Browning said after helping the Bengals snap a three-game losing streak to even their record at 6-6 and keep their playoff hopes alive, not to mention a 15-game skid in prime-time road games.
“I think I can continue to get better,” he added. “I think there’s going to be a lot of different looks thrown at me over the next couple of weeks. There’s always a new challenge. I’ll be focused on continuing to improve, continuing to grow as a quarterback.”
Browning’s NFL debut last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers ended in a 16-10 defeat, but there were positive elements to build on, most notably his performance on early downs. He was 8 of 10 on first and second down in the first half, but Taylor stressed the need to be better on third down.
Monday night, Browning was 9 of 11 for 143 yards and the biggest play of the night, a 76-yard touchdown to Ja’Marr Chase on the first third down of the second half. The deep shot broke a 14-14 tie and marked the team’s longest play of the season.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 5, 2023
“He showed a lot of poise and was QB1 material,” said Chase, who caught 11 passes for 149 yards and the score.
“Boy had a helluva game,” added wide receiver Tee Higgins, who caught three passes for 36 yards in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a hamstring injury.
Higgins’ final catch of the game came in overtime and also was on third down — a 3rd-and-10 from the Cincinnati 47. The out route went for 11 yards and enabled the Bengals to move the chains to help set up Evan McPherson’s game-winning 48-yard field goal.
Taylor praised not just the way Browning threw the ball, but everything about him from his decision-making to managing the game.
“Awesome. Outstanding. I just thought he managed the game beautifully,” Taylor said. “He was aggressive with some of his throws, did a great job making plays with his feet. One of the naked throws he made was an outstanding throw to Mitch (Wilcox) with (Josh Allen) right in his face.
“Just really proud of Jake and the job he did,” Taylor added. “Really, really proud of the team win, but really proud of Jake in a second career start to come out here on Monday Night Football and do what he did today is pretty cool.”
Browning was hard on himself after the loss in his debut, with an interception being one of the key plays in the game. To bounce back in such a strong fashion had to have been satisfying, but he said it wasn’t emotional.
“It’s partially because it came down to the wire and I feel like I play my best football when I’m calm,” he said. “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, which is obviously noteworthy. But I’m used to winning. I’ve won a lot of football games in my life.”
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