The Cincinnati Bengals lost Joe Burrow for the season after it was revealed that he tore a ligament in his right wrist.
Burrow suffered the injury on Thursday night after a tackle and then saying he “felt a pop” on a touchdown pass the very next play.
The Bengals are 5-5, in last place in a stacked AFC North, and are currently out of the playoff picture. They’ll have to rely on Jake Browning for what many think needs to be a miracle run against the toughest remaining schedule in the league.’
Surely, Cincinnati was hoping they wouldn’t be in this situation: fighting for a playoff spot with a quarterback practically nobody had ever heard of, instead of the 2020 No. 1 overall pick who’s the highest-paid player in the NFL.
Browning seems to now make his first NFL start in Week 12. So, who the heck is he?
The 27-year-old signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of Washington, where he made a name for himself in the college football world.
As a sophomore in 2016, he led the Huskies to a Pac-12 title, a College Football Playoff appearance and was first-team all-conference. As a senior, he faced Ohio State in the Rose Bowl after winning another conference title. In his Husky career, he went 39-15 as a starter, and his 12,296 yards and 94 touchdowns are school records. Before college, he was a four-star recruit and the California Gatorade Player of the Year in both his junior and senior years at Folsom High School near Sacramento.
Browning spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons on the Vikings practice squad before joining Cincinnati in 2021. He was named the backup quarterback during this year’s training camp.
Entering Thursday, he had just one career pass attempt, which came in his NFL debut late in Week 1. It was incomplete.
In relief of Burrow, he completed eight of his 14 attempts for 68 yards and found Ja’Marr Chase in the end zone, albeit in garbage time.
It was quite the unexpected plugin for Browning, but like any backup, he’s been prepared to hear his name called. Now, he’s the guy for the foreseeable future.
“Having a short week and then playing the first non-preseason game since like, the 2020 (actually 2019) Rose Bowl, I definitely got some stuff to build on,” he said after Thursday’s game. “I’m going to prepare like I’m the guy, just like I do every week.”
Browning will be under center for the Bengals next Sunday when Cincy hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers in yet another division matchup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.