JACKSONVILLE, Fla. _ Bengals center Ted Karras had just helped oversee one of the most dynamic victories in franchise history, a 34-31 overtime road Monday Night conquest of AFC South-leading Jacksonville generated by the 354 yards and 86% passing of backup quarterback Jake Browning in his second NFL start as the Bengals evened their record at 6-6.
"Downtown Jake Brown. I'm going to make it stick," Karras declared in the EverBank Stadium visitors' locker room as Browning shook his head don't.
"It means we're in the hunt," Karras said of the AFC's jigsaw playoff picture. "We're on the graphic and moving up."
Browning went downtown on the Bengals' longest pass of the season, a 76-yard touchdown to Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase one-on-one down the left sideline that gave the Bengals a 21-14 lead on their first series of the second half. A play Karras said worked, in part, because of a season-high 156 rushing yards on a season-high 31 rushes.
"That's what Ja'Marr does," Karras said. "We executed. We got a hat on a hat. Something we haven't done in the losses."
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said this week they would run it more times than the eight they ran it last week and he was right.
"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," Taylor said. "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, staring 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 nakeds (bootlegs)
and screens and I think just helped everybody. " ...
EVIL JA'MARR: Chase slowed up inside the 5 on the long one ("I was thinking 'Why is he slowing up?" Browning said) and he said it played into what he told wide receiver Tee Higgins in pregame.
"I just wanted to be a jerk," said Chase after his fifth 100-yard game of the season. "Take towels. Just do stuff. I just felt like being an evil person in the game. I just feel like being evil today."
He was so nasty, where to start for the man who has the most 50-yard touchdown catches since he came into the league in 2021? He plucked a fourth-and-three low ball off the deck to convert inside the 5 to set up one touchdown and he had the big play in overtime when he made a juggling 17-yard catch over the middle to set up Evan McPherson's 48-yard walk-off field goal, his first since the 2021 AFC title game.
Chase ended up jerking around the Jags for 11 catches for 149 yards.
"We've got guys," Browning said. "We know who they are."
Chase saluted Browning with, "He showed he's QB1 material."
COOL-HAND JAKE: Browning has been watching how cool Joe Burrow is for the past three years and on Monday he was cool as Joe Lee, Elvis, and ice cream. As the clocked ticked to three minutes left in the overtime, he hooked up with Chase for what appeared to be a first down at the Jaguars 31 as he wriggled out-of-bounds. But after after the refs took an interminable look at it, they moved it back a yard and as they looked at it, Browning broke the tension.
"Yeah, I was joking with Ja'Marr. Can't you get the first down there? I don't know, just a little sarcasm back and forth. Yeah, it just felt like we were in rhythm. I think the stats kind of show that, and just overall top-to-bottom good offensive performance," Browning said. "A lot goes into that. Establish the run, get aligned. The tight ends did a great job. Joe Mixon went really hard. Chase Brown
came in and provided some spark, some explosive runs. And so, I just feel like I'm still kind of in that
mode where I'm in the moment and not very reflective. But I definitely think (the run) was a big difference."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Bengals went 8-for-14 on third down after going 2-for-10 last week against Pittsburgh and Browning credited his better eye discipline with the help of more six- and seven-men protections. And it was in the din of Jacksonville's first Monday night game in a dozen years. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said he was surprised how loud it was and pointed to the communication between Browning and Karras.
"To come out here, the loudest Jacksonville has ever been. Credit to the Jacksonville fans. But credit to the Cincinnati fans," Karras said. "A lot of orange in the stands today. But to come out and execute on offense in a hostile environment against a team that's rolling, it's a really big win for us and we need to build off this." …
Rookie running back Chase Brown had more touches in his entire career Monday with nine carries for 61 yards, a nice paring with running back Joe Mixon's 68 yards on 19 carries. Brown had one more carry than Mixon had the week before and that included the Bengals' longest run from scrimmage this season, a 31-yard wide zone behind Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown.
"No question, this is as physical as we've been. It's a great feeling," Orlando Brown said.
Mixon scored two touchdowns on the ground and on one of them he invited in the offensive line for a choreographed celebration that had been planned on Friday.
"I don't know what that was," Brown said.
But he knew exactly why he mouthed "Jackass."
"I saw all the picks pregame," Brown said. "Everyone had Jacksonville to win. It just seemed right in the moment," Brown said ...
A big-time effort by the Bengals defense. After three straight games allowing at least 150 yards on the ground, they stoned the Jags on 2.8 yards per 25 carries. Their running back, Travis Etienne Jr., went for 45 yards on 11 carries …