The Jake Browning show hit critical mass on Monday Night Football as the Cincinnati Bengals kept their playoff hopes alive by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-31 in overtime. The win pushed the Bengals to 6-6 as Browning was stellar in the second NFL start of his career going 32-37 for 354 yards with one passing and one rushing touchdown. Zac Taylor also deserves an assist for calling an excellent game to help Browning be successful. The most important aspect last night was the Bengals ability to effectively run the ball. The duo of Joe Mixon and rookie running back Chase Brown were fantastic in combining for 129 yards rushing. Mixon had two touchdowns and added 49 yards receiving to help keep the Jags off balance. Cincinnati will need to follow a similar script for the remaining five games of the season if they want to reach the postseason.
Jake Browning Keeps Hope Alive for the Cincinnati Bengals
Jake X Ja’Marr
Everyone knows how special the connection between Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase is and Browning wanted some of that magic in feeding the All-Pro wideout consistently on his way to 149 yards receiving and one touchdown on the Bengals first possession to start the second half.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 5, 2023
The final tally for Chase puts him in rarified air, joining A.J. Green as the only players in team history with three straight 1k receiving seasons to begin their career. This connection between Browning and Chase should only boost the confidence of the coaching staff more in opening up the playbook.
Run to Pass
The much-maligned offensive line of the Bengals has had trouble at both ends of the blocking spectrum this season. Burrow was still taking too many sacks and they never found a rhythm running the ball. The game against Jacksonville may have been their best through 12 games. Brown and Mixon had open rushing lanes and the Bengals stuck with it, which, in turn, opened up the passing game.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 5, 2023
Taylor would note about the O-line, “I thought our linemen did a great job. I thought the backs were really explosive when they hit the hole. They did a great job fighting for yardage. Hitting it when they were supposed to. Jake did a really good job managing it. There was a lot of check plays that he had to manage there and distribute the ball in the perimeter. So I just thought it was a really good plan. Really well executed by the guys on offense, starting with the linemen, running backs, and then Jake did a nice job, too. It helped us get a really good rhythm on offense and I think keep them off balance. We had several naked (bootlegs) and screens and I think just helped everybody.”
The Bengals are one game out of the playoff race after MNF and face a huge game Sunday at Paycor Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts who sit above them in the standings. This is the time of year when tiebreakers become crucial in making the playoffs, and Cincinnati can kill two birds with one stone this week. Taylor does a great job of keeping his team focused on winning the next game in a week-to-week league. His mantra will be no different for the rest of the season, and, truth be told, they’d have it no other way.
Main Photo: Cara Owsley/The Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK