Jake Browning and the Cincinnati Bengals did it.
They went down to Jacksonville and escaped with their sixth win of the season, despite entering the game as a double-digit underdog. The Bengals' destiny is going to ride in the hands of Browning, who won his first NFL game in just his second start.
Browning was 19/21 as a passer at one point and ended 32/37. He had one touchdown and zero interceptions in the Bengals 34-31 win. That snapped a three-game losing streak for Cincinnati, which bounced back nicely after a 1-3 start to the season. It is now 6-6.
That said, let’s dive into where the Bengals are in the NFL Power Rankings after an unexpected performance from their backup quarterback.
NFL.com — No. 18 - Up from No. 20
Maybe this is what happens when you hang out around Joe Burrow, but when did Jake Browning become a stone-cold killer? Time and time again Monday night, while Browning was dicing up the Jaguars, I kept thinking how relaxed the guy looked. I was ready to rip Zac Taylor for the disastrous Tyler Boyd trick-play turnover, which was a bad idea from the start. But it was about the one time in the second half Taylor didn’t put the ball in Browning’s hands and ask Burrow’s replacement to win the game for him. Browning delivered in big way, completing a stunning 32 of 37 passes (with at least one clear drop) for 354 yards, notching a TD running and passing in the overtime win. The Bengals’ playoff chances went from miniscule to merely remote, thanks to an incredible performance from Browning in his second NFL start. Wow.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 13 - Up from No. 19
Jake Browning played an absolutely unbelievable game, with 354 yards and a game-winning drive in overtime. The Jaguars don’t have a terrible defense either. Who knows what will happen with the rest of Browning’s career, but at the very least he’ll always be remembered for what he did Monday night.
ESPN — No. 19 - No chance
Hudson was a preseason darling who didn’t make the 53-man roster. But after the Bengals needed more productivity at tight end, he was promoted from the practice squad and has already made an impact. Despite playing in just six games, he is fifth on the team in receptions (26), making him the top pass-catching option at tight end. Hudson has been a bright spot in what is turning into a lost season for a team that went from being a championship contender to outside of the playoff picture. — Ben Baby
FOX Sports — No. 21 - Up from No. 23
My apologies to Jake Browning. I thought the Bengals were irrelevant with him at the helm, and then he turned in one of the best games of the season. If he can play even close to that level again, I’ll have to re-evaluate the Bengals’ ceiling.
CBS Sports — No. 20 - Up from No. 21
Jake Browning played well in beating the Jaguars, which gives them some hope. They are 6-6 and still alive in the playoff hunt.
Pro Football Talk — No. 17 - Up from No. 20
Jake Browning is suddenly playing like Joe Burrow.
Sharp Football Analysis — No. 18 - Up from No. 23
USA Today — No. 21 - Up from No. 26
Their win at Jacksonville was their first Monday night road victory since 1990, snapping a string of nine consecutive defeats in that context. More importantly, QB2 Jake Browning’s sterling performance restores a glimmer of hope … even if realists think this is still a lost campaign.
Sporting News — No. 15 - Up from No. 18
The Bengals got a massive and inspiriing win by taking down the Jaguars on Monday night on the road, putting them back in the playoff hunt with Jake Browning playing well ahead of a classic Pac-12 rematch with Gardner Minshew and the Colts at home.