Bengals QB Jake Browning’s Cramps Cause Concern, Then Laughter After a Record-Breaking Win

Jake Browning's dash for fluids provided some levity after the Bengals secured their second consecutive win under his record-breaking leadership.

On Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning became the first player in NFL history to post a completion rate of at least 78% and a passer rating of at least 95 in the first three starts of his career, yet after the game, he was feeling … embarrassed?

Browning put a scare into the Paycor Stadium crowd early in the fourth quarter of the 34-14 victory when he took a knee in the huddle and needed medical assistance.

AJ McCarron entered the game as Browning when sprinting into the locker room in a scene reminiscent of nearly eight years earlier, when Andy Dalton broke his thumb on Dec. 13, 2015, and McCarron came in to finish the game and the season.

Jake Browning’s Cramps Cause Laughter After Bengals Win

Sunday’s stint was much shorter for McCarron, as Browning came running back out of the locker room a few minutes later, rehydrated with an IV puncture in his arm and no more cramping in his right forearm and thumb.

MORE: Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart

“It’s pretty dumb,” Browning said after completing 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.”

“I just have to drink more water and electrolytes, I guess,” Browning added. “Sometimes, when it’s cold, you just aren’t thirsty. That’s probably the main takeaway from the game — hydrate better. It’s kind of embarrassing.”

Browning said he started feeling it on the first play of the fourth quarter when he threw an incomplete pass to Tee Higgins and absorbed one of only three quarterback hits by the Indianapolis defense. Television replays showed Browning going down with his right hand being one of the first things to hit. His right thumb was tucked in his palm when it happened.

On the next play, he started to throw a pass but pulled it down and took off for a three-yard scramble. Then, when he was in the huddle, it got worse and caused him to take a knee, leaving everyone thinking the worst.

“There was a little bit of PTSD with quarterbacks grabbing their hand and wrist area, so I didn’t love that,” right tackle Jonah Williams said, referencing the season-ending wrist injury Joe Burrow suffered to open the door for Browning’s emergence.

McCarron and Burrow were wearing earpieces, listening to the communication between the coaches and Browning, so they knew exactly what was going on with the cramping.

Browning said when he got back to the sideline, Burrow was laughing at him.

“Embarrassing,” Browning repeated.

The opposite of embarrassing is what Browning has been able to accomplish in his first three starts, leading the Bengals to back-to-back wins against teams ahead of them in the playoff race while completing 69 of 87 passes for 856 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 113.4.

This is where Browning’s stats rank in NFL history for quarterbacks in their first three starts (minimum 20 pass attempts):

  • 79.3% completion rate – 1st
  • 113.4 passer rating – Tied for 1st with Chad Pennington
  • 9.8 yards per attempt – 9th
  • 856 yards – 17th

“We felt like we were in a great flow the last eight or nine weeks. The Pittsburgh game was our outlier,” Taylor said of the 16-10 loss to the Steelers in Browning’s first career start. “We’ve been playing good football, so the quarterback jumps in and is prepared. Jake has done that. The guys believe him. But it’s not about one guy. It’s the unit coming together.”

And keeping the fluids flowing.

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