JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31 on “Monday Night Football” in a game that saw quarterback Trevor Lawrence leave in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury.
Bengals backup quarterback Jake Browning — filling in for the injured Joe Burrow — did his best Burrow impression in Jacksonville, leading Cincinnati to a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter. But the Jags stormed back with a pair of TDs, the second of which set up by a Josh Allen interception of a Tyler Boyd pass, to take the lead.
Browning answered with a short TD to even the score 28-28, then commanded a late field goal drive one possession after Lawrence went down and was taken to the locker room. Jaguars backup C.J. Beathard answered with a field goal drive of his own, sending the game to overtime where Bengals kicker Evan McPherson won the game from 48 yards.
The loss drops Jacksonville to 8-4 on the season, while the Bengals improve to 6-6 — and 1-1 since Burrow was ruled out for the season with an injury to his right wrist.
Jake Browning got it done.
In his second career start — in a primetime matchup against a division-leading team in the AFC — the Bengals’ backup quarterback turned in the type of performance that will give the team hope it can still compete 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 shot at reaching the playoffs for the third straight year. Of Cincinnati’s five remaining opponents, only the Kansas City Chiefs have their starting quarterback healthy.
Bold prediction: Rookie running back Chase Brown is going to see more carries the rest of the season. Cincinnati wanted to see how the fifth-round pick would fare on the ground before he went on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. In his second game back, Brown saw work early and often. And he showed why he could be a big-play running back that Cincinnati has lacked the last couple of years. Brown’s 31-yard carry in the third quarter was the team’s longest from scrimmage this season. To put that in perspective, Joe Mixon had 35 yards on his first 10 carries. The remaining five games of the regular season could give the Bengals an extended look at whether Brown could be a long-term starter.
Eye-popping Next Gen Stat: Browning’s completion percentage over expectation in the first three quarters was a staggering 16.3%, according to NFL Next Gen, which ranked 12th out of 386 for a quarterback through the first three quarters of a game this season. And it wasn’t just a lot of short throws that built that number. Of his first 20 completions, five of them were for 10 or more air yards, per NFL Next Gen.
Next game: vs. Indianapolis Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 10)
The Jaguars lost to Cincinnati in overtime, but may have suffered an even worse loss when Lawrence suffered a right ankle sprain late in the fourth quarter.
Lawrence was injured when left tackle Walker Little was pushed back and stepped on Lawrence’s right ankle. His leg appeared to get caught under him as he went to the ground, and he needed assistance to get to the locker room.
If Lawrence is out, the team will turn to Beathard, who hasn’t started a game since Week 16 in 2021 with the San Francisco 49ers. Beathard had only thrown 17 passes in his two-plus seasons with the Jaguars, but he led them into position for a game-tying field goal with 26 seconds remaining in regulation. The Jaguars play the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in the next two weeks.
Pivotal 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 hold onto the ball. Washington grabbed the deflection for his first NFL touchdown. Instead of trailing 21-14 and the Bengals riding a wave of momentum, the game was tied at 21.
Pivotal play, part II: That play proved even more important after linebacker Josh Allen intercepted Tyler Boyd’s attempted pass on a trick play to running back Joe Mixon on the Bengals’ first offensive snap following Washington’s touchdown catch. That gave the Jaguars the ball on 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 in 2:13.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The Jaguars thought they’d be able to pressure Bengals quarterback Jake Browning in his second career start, and they did on a fourth-down play to stop Cincinnati’s first drive. That was pretty much it for the first half, however. Per ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars got pressure on 14.3% of the Bengals’ dropbacks in the first half (including Ja’Marr Chase‘s one attempt). Browning completed 17 of 19 passes for 178 yards in the first half, and he had 260 yards (and only three incompletions) entering the fourth quarter.
Next game: at Cleveland Browns (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 10)