Bengals @ Jaguars
Final Score: Bengals 34, Jaguars 31
Writer: Adam Nardelli (@adamnardelli on Twitter)
This would be a blowout and an easy win for the Jaguars, right? Not so fast! On a crisp 63 degree night in north Florida, the reeling Bengals met the surging Jaguars, who came in with eyes on the AFC’s #1 overall seed. Anyone who thought it would be a walk in the park for Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars were sadly mistaken as Bengals QB Jake Browning looked like a ten-year veteran, not a guy making his first start on the road. He completed 17 of his first 19 passes and looked more and more comfortable as the game went on. Browning was even better in the second half, hitting Ja’Marr Chase for a 76-yard touchdown and getting in the endzone himself on a quarterback sneak. Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence put up his third consecutive impressive game for fantasy managers, but his night concerningly ended early after being bent back and injuring his ankle in the fourth quarter. The fantasy community and Jaguars fans alike will of course be waiting on the edge of their seats for any news regarding Lawrence’s injury. While Lawrence going down definitely leaves a dark cloud over this game, it ended up being one of the most entertaining matchups we’ve seen all season, largely due to a quarterback in Jake Browning that has barely played NFL football.
- Jake Browning – one of the best performances from any quarterback all season, completing 86% of his passes
- Joe Mixon– made amends for his disappointing week 12; heavily used in the passing game as well
- Evan Engram – his first touchdown at home as a Jaguar; caught all nine targets
- Tee Higgins – minimal targets in his first game back
- Calvin Ridley – Nine targets and three carries, but not much to show for it
Jake Browning: 32/37, 354 yards, TD | 2 carries, 22 yards, TD | 1 reception, -7 yards
By the end of the first quarter, Browning’s longest pass was for three yards, but he also completed 100% of his passes, at least helping get the young quarterback some confidence. That confidence looked like it paid off early in the second quarter when Browning found Trent Irwin for 25 yards and then Tight End Tanner Hudson for another 24. It was like night and day from the first quarter to the first few plays of the second quarter. Browning led two second-quarter touchdown drives, completing just about every pass he threw. He apparently just needed to get his feet wet in the opening quarter because he looked poised, confident, and nearly unstoppable once the second-quarter rolled around. He picked up right where he left off (and more) when he found Ja’Marr Chase for a 76-yard touchdown on their third play of the second half. Chase was in single coverage and Browning smartly got the ball to him in stride allowing Chase to take it all the way to the house.
Maybe it was just me, but the ball looked pretty coming out of his hands throughout the game. For a guy that’s played very little football in the NFL, the moment clearly wasn’t too big for him. Even after Tyler Boyd threw an interception and their lead evaporated, Browning didn’t falter. In bis post-game interview Browning mentioned that he’s had a lot of time to “evaluate himself”, helping him to stay calm a midst the chaos of being thrust into a starting role with minimal NFL experience. That calmness and confidence paid off tonight. Congrats to Browning on his first win as a starter since his days at the University of Washington all the way back in 2018.
Joe Mixon: 19 carries, 68 yards, 2 TD | 7 targets, 6 receptions, 49 yards
Mixon benefited early from the Bengals’ emphasis on the short passing attack when he took a screen pass from Browning for 28 yards. After a 14-yard Tee Higgins reception took the Bengals to the Jacksonville six-yard line. Zac Taylor went right to Joe Mixon who punched it in for the touchdown. The 27 year-old capped off a late second-quarter 12-play drive with a two-yard touchdown, adding to his impressive opening half. Rookie running back Chase Brown saw some action, but Mixon still dominates the high-leverage goal line looks. It’s safe to say fantasy managers who didn’t let their emotions get the best of them from last week’s 16-yard performance reaped the benefits from keeping Mixon in their lineups. Browning looked his way often in the short passing game and Zac Taylor rode Mixon on their game-winning drive in overtime. 3.6 yards per carry is underwhelming, but volume is the name of the game for Mixon, and tonight was the perfect example of that.
Chase Brown: 9 carries, 61 yards
The 5th-round pick from this past year’s draft had the breakout game of his career. After having six total rushing yards for the season coming into the game, Brown looked like a guy Zac Taylor and the Bengals need to be giving a few more opportunities to. A 31-yard run late in the third-quarter highlighted his night and showed off his explosiveness. Mixon got in the endzone twice, but, as I mentioned before, he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Mixon’s never been especially efficient, but clearly this rookie has some juice and needs to have a role in this offense. Mixon managers won’t like it, but why not ease Hill’s workload just a little bit and get this exciting young player some more reps to see what he can do with the ball in bis bands?
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Ja’Mar Chase: 12 targets, 11 receptions, 149 yards, TD
You can’t fault the Bengals for trying to get the ball in Chase’s hands early and often. It seemed like every passing play throughout the first quarter was a wide receiver screen to the third-year superstar. 5 receptions for 11 yards on their first two possessions for Chase sure tells you what the Bengals game plan was (get the ball to Chase and hope for the best). Things finally opened up for Chase on the Bengals’ third play of the second half when Browning found him in single coverage for a massive 78-yard touchdown. That’s the Chase we all know and love! Sure we want his buddy Joey B throwing him the ball, but he’s pretty close to as quarterback proof as there is. The 2021 first-rounder displayed incredible concentration when he bobbled a pass from Browning but somehow secured the ball to keep their overtime drive going, eventually leading to the game-winning field goal.
Tee Higgins: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 35 yards
A 14-yard reception from Higgins, who hasn’t played since week 9, helped get the Bengals to the Jaguars six-yard line, leading to an early second-quarter Joe Mixon touchdown. He caught a key 11-yard pass on 3rd &10 in overtime that helped extend the drive and eventually result in the game-winning field goal. Outside of that, it was.a quiet return for Higgins. Obviously his rapport with Browning will need some time to develop as this was their first game playing together.
Tanner Hudson: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 35 yards
The former Giant connected with Browning on a 24-yard pitch and catch that helped set up Joe Mixon’s first touchdown. Outside of that play, Hudson came up with 11 yards on his other three receptions, but nine targets the past two games for a guy you should be able to get for free if you’re really desperate isn’t awful.
Tyler Boyd: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 37 yards | 0/1, INT
I love a trick play every now and then, but when Browning was completing just about every pass, it was a little curious to have Tyler Boyd attempt a pass. That decision proved costly as the eight-year veteran threw the ball right into Jaguars defender Roy Robertson-Harris’ hands. Unfortunately for Boyd it led to a Trevor Lawrence rushing touchdown and gave back the lead to the Jaguars.
Trenton Irwin: 1 target, 1 reception, 25 yards
Mitchell Wilcox: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards
Drew Sample; 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards
Trevor Lawrence: 22/29, 258 yards, 2 TD | 5 carries, 8 yards, TD
Lawrence led Jacksonville to just their third opening drive touchdown after the Bengals failed to convert on a fourth down. He immediately found Christian Kirk wide open for a 26-yard reception, which unfortunately resulted in an injury for Kirk. He did a great job of spreading the ball around in the first half, connecting with seven different receivers, which possibly was a by-product of one of his favorite targets in Kirk being out. Lawrence dodged a bullet late in the first half when he fumbled the snap and proceeded to chuck the ball deep down the field like he was playing in the turkey bowl at my local middle school. Calvin Ridley actually had a great chance of catching it, but it easily could’ve ended in disaster. Lawrence led two second-half touchdown drives, one ending with a qb sneak for a touchdown, a nice addition to Lawrence’s fantasy stat line. Of course, Lawrence’s night was cut short after he was bent back and injured his ankle in.the fourth quarter. Like many of you I will be be checking Lawrence’s injury status all day instead of working tomorrow. As of this writing it appeared Lawrence suffered an ankle sprain, according to The Athletic, but as Tuesday progresses more concrete information should be available.
CJ Beathard: 9/10, 63 yards
The seven-year pro was forced into action after Trevor Lawrence exited the game with an ankle injury. For a guy that essentially never plays, he did about as good as you could hope for after leading the Jaguars down the field on their final drive in regulation and helped set up the game tying field goal. In overtime Beatrhard threw an incredibly impressive throw to Calvin Ridley that got the Jaguars inside the five-yard line, but it was rudely taken away from us on a holding call against the Jaguars.
Travis Etienne: 11 carries, 45 yards, TD | 4 receptions, 34 yards
The third-year back didn’t seem concerned about coming into the game questionable with a rib cartilage issue. He got his night off started on a positive note with a 4-yard touchdown on a pitch from Lawrence. He had a relatively quiet night after that until he took a short pass from CJ Beathard for 19 yards on the final drive of regulation and helped get the Jaguars into field goal range. 11 carries is lower than what you expect from a bell cow like Mixon, but he still had more than double the carries D’Ernest Johnson had.
D’Ernest Johnson: 5 carries, 4 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards
It was undoubtedly an ineffective day for Johnson, but one thing to note is he was the only other running back to touch the ball besides Etienne and has clearly supplanted Tank Bigsby as the number two running back.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Evan Engram: 9 targets, 9 receptions, 82 yards
The moment we’ve all been waiting for, an Evan Engram touchdown finally happened! Surprisingly it was his first touchdown as a Jaguar at home. The 2017 first-rounder caught a short pass from Lawrence and he did the rest of the work, sprinting by Bengals defenders on his way for a 22-yard touchdown. It was a superb showing of his yards after the catch skills. Engram padded his stat line a bit when CJ Beathard came in and at times was more comfortable with dumping off short passes, which Evan Engram was the beneficiary of. We’ll never apologize for fantasy points!
Zay Jones: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 78 yards
The seven-year veteran has battled a knee issue for much of the year and was minimally involved the last two weeks after being out since week 5. Tonight was a different story, however. Jones was second on the team in targets and connected with Lawrence on two explosive plays of 23 and 25 yards. He looks to be getting healthy at the right time, but his fantasy value of course largely hinges on the outcome of Trevor Lawrence’s injury.
Christian Kirk: 1 target, 1 reception, 26 yards
The night (I thought) couldn’t have started any better for Kirk after he caught a 26-yard pass from Lawrence on their first play from scrimmage. Kirk also injured his groin on this play and didn’t return to action. Obviously I don’t have to tell you that his status should be monitored closely throughout the week.
Parker Washington: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 61 yards, TD
How about Mr. Washington’s remarkable breakout night? The 6th-round pick from Penn State stepped up big time in the absence of Christian Kirk. In one of the more impressive touchdown catches you’ll see, Washington caught a tipped ball in the back of the endzone, maintained control of the ball, and somehow stayed in bounds to help the Jaguars tie the game in the third-quarter. I know this article is called what we saw, but it’s not against the rules to go check out this play if you haven’t seen it. Don’t go and think Washington was a one hit wonder tonight, though. The Texas native also caught a tough contested catch for 18 yards that got the Jaguars in the redzone, eventually leading to his own touchdown. Give the Jaguars front office some credit for having such depth behind their starting receivers and having a guy like Washington waiting in the wings.
Calvin Ridley: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 26 yards, 3 carries, 7 yards
Well, no one can say Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor didn’t try to get Ridley the ball. Eight targets and three carries show how much of an emphasis there is to get the ball in his hands, but the results were lacking. The Jaguars used a few end arounds to get the ball to Ridley, but Cincinnati wasn’t fooled. His night could’ve looked a lot different if he was able to track down a ball Lawrence chucked into the air that would’ve been a huge gain, but it slipped through Ridley’s hands. His up and down season continues.
Luke Farrell: 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@justparadesigns on Twitter/X)