Jacksonville, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31 on “Monday Night Football” after quarterback Trevor Lawrence left with a right ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
Bengals backup quarterback Jake Browning — filling in for the injured Joe Burrow — did his best Burrow impression in Jacksonville as Cincinnati led 21-14 late in the third quarter. But the Jags bounced back with a pair of TDs, the second of which was set up by a Josh Allen interception of a Tyler Boyd pass.
Browning responded with a short TD to tie the game at 28-28, then commandeered a late field goal drive after Lawrence went down and was taken to the locker room. Jaguars backup CJ Beathard responded with a field goal drive of his own, sending the game into overtime, where Bengals kicker Evan McPherson scored the game-winning goal from 48 yards out.
The loss dropped Jacksonville to 8-4 on the season, while the Bengals improved to 6-6 — and 1-1 since Burrow sat out the season with a right wrist injury.
Jake Browning did just that.
In his second career start — in a prime-time contest against a division-leading team in the AFC — the Bengals’ backup quarterback turned in the type of performance that gives the team hope it can still contend for a playoff berth.
Browning was 32-of-37 passing for 354 yards and two touchdowns — one passing, one rushing. Two of those incompletions were drops by his wide receivers. If Cincinnati can replicate this type of performance, it has a chance to make the playoffs for a third straight year. Of Cincinnati’s five remaining opponents, only the Kansas City Chiefs have their starting quarterback healthy.
Bold prediction: Chase Brown is going to see more running back the rest of the season. Cincinnati wanted to see what the fifth-round pick would look like on the field. In his second game, Brown worked early as well. Why did he make a big play that Cincinnati hasn’t had in the last two years? Brown’s 31-yard carry in the third quarter was the team’s longest drive of the season. To put that into perspective, Joe Mixon had 35 yards on his first 10 carries. The remaining five games of the regular season could give the Bengals a stretch to see if Brown can be a long-term starter.
Eye-popping Next Generation Statistics: According to NFL NextGen, Browning’s completion percentage was 16.3% over expectations through the first three quarters, which ranked 12th out of 386 by a quarterback through the first three quarters this season. It wasn’t just a lot of short throws that built that number. Of his first 20 completions, five were for 10 or more air yards per NFL quarterback.
Next game: vs. Indianapolis Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, December 10)
The Jaguars lost to Cincinnati in overtime, but could have suffered an even worse loss late in the fourth quarter when Lawrence sprained his right ankle.
Lawrence was injured when left tackle Walker Little was pushed back and stepped on Lawrence’s right ankle. His leg seemed to get stuck under him as he went to the floor, and he needed help to get to the locker room.
If Lawrence leaves, the team will return to Beathard, who has not started a game since Week 16 of 2021 with the San Francisco 49ers. Beathard had only thrown 17 passes in his two-plus seasons with the Jaguars, but he led them to a game-tying field goal with 26 seconds of regulation. The Jaguars play the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in the next two weeks.
Main play: Rookie wide receiver Parker Washington turned an interception into a touchdown on a third-and-9 play from the Cincinnati 14-yard line. Bengals safety Dax Hill got both hands on Trevor Lawrence’s pass to Washington in the back of the end zone, but he couldn’t catch the ball. Washington caught a pass for his first NFL touchdown. Instead of trailing 21-14, the Bengals rode the momentum to tie the game at 21.
Main Drama, Part II: That play was even more important after linebacker Josh Allen intercepted Tyler Boyd’s pass attempt on a trick play to sack Joe Mixon on the Bengals’ first offensive snap following Washington’s touchdown catch. That gave the Jaguars the ball at the 9-yard line and Lawrence’s 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal gave the Jaguars a 28-21 lead — a 14-point swing with 2:13 left.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The Jaguars thought they could pressure Bengals quarterback Jake Browning in his second career start, and they had a fourth-down play to stop Cincinnati’s first drive. However, it was too much in the first half. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Jaguars pressured the Bengals on 14.3% of their first half possessions (including one attempt by Ja’Mar Chase). Browning completed 17 of 19 passes for 178 yards in the first half, and he had 260 yards (and three incompletions) in the fourth quarter.
Next game: at Cleveland Browns (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, December 10)